Geneva runs past St. Charles East, takes control of DuKane race

If someone watching Tuesday's St. Charles East and Geneva girls basketball game was to say that the Vikings once trailed by eight points, it would have been hard to believe.

There are hot streaks and then there was Geneva in the second quarter.

The Vikings made their first 10 shots of the quarter and 12 straight overall to come back and dominate St. Charles East in a decisive 68-52 victory to take another step toward outright control of the DuKane Conference.

As Alexis DiOrio's 3-pointer gave the Saints a 15-7 advantage at the 1:32 mark of the first quarter, Geneva (13-4, 6-0 DuKane Conference) seemed to be in a world of trouble. However, a 13-2 run put the Vikings ahead - and they didn't look back.

"I think sometimes you just need a little wake-up call," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "I just asked them why we were playing scared. Like we just needed to get going and go. We just had to get back to what we're good at and play more aggressive."

What Meadows wasn't aware of was that several members of past Geneva girls basketball state championship teams, including recent Wisconsin women's volleyball national champion Grace Loberg, were in attendance to cheer on their alma-mater.

While sophomore Leah Palmer and her teammates weren't aware of the alumni present, they were sure to not disappoint. The 5-foot-11 guard scored nine of her team-high 18 points in that second quarter as the Vikings turned a once eight-point deficit into a 14-point halftime lead.

Geneva outscored St. Charles East, 27-11, in the second quarter and, 46-20, in the middle two quarters.

"We're definitely a team that feeds off each other's energy," said Palmer, one of four Geneva starters in double figures Tuesday night. "All of us can contribute on offense in so many ways. I think when one person starts making shots, it gets all of us going and I think you saw that tonight."

Another Viking that had the basket seem larger than normal was Lauren Slagle. The junior center made her first seven field goal attempts en route to 16 points.

Once Slagle got going on the inside, it freed up more Geneva 3-point attempts, including back-to-back 3s from Zosia Wrobel and Palmer midway through the second quarter that gave the Vikings a double-digit lead that never returned to single digits.

"Our motto for our team this year is 'Team Together'," said Slagle, who also added 10 rebounds in the win. "We live by that. I think in the first quarter we were a little bit selfish and weren't moving the ball as much. [Coach Meadows] just told us that we needed to get it together and I think everyone wanted this win so bad to be first in conference and it showed."

The Saints (10-2, 3-2), who were playing in their first game action since Dec. 17 due to COVID-19 protocols, weren't able to recover from the hot shooting second quarter from Geneva.

Senior Torrie Kortan finished with a game-high 20 points, while DiOrio added 16 points in the loss for St. Charles East.

"Our defense just let us down," St. Charles East interim head coach Josh Foster said after his first game in charge of the Saints. "I think we were giving up something like 36 points per game and we gave up 27 [points] in that second quarter alone ... I think some of it is rust, for sure. I mean, we've been dying to get out there and play. You can scrimmage all you want, but getting out here is completely different."

Cassie Arni (13 points, four blocks) and Wrobel (12 points) also joined Palmer and Slagle in double figures for the Vikings, who finished the night shooting 55% from the field.

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