Girls basketball: Geneva cruises to 11th straight win

Lake Park showed flashes of greatness in the third quarter of Thursday night's DuKane Conference contest, but visiting Geneva has been showing off its greatness all year long.

The Lancers' 24-point third quarter made things interesting for a while, but couldn't stop the Vikings from winning 70-51 for their 11th straight win and seventh in as many DuKane games.

Guard Leah Palmer led the way with 19 points for Geneva (16-2), but three other players scored in double figures and a fifth tallied 8 points.

"We're a pretty resilient group," said Palmer, who scored 11 points as Geneva took a seemingly commanding 36-17 lead at the half. "Every time we play Lake Park we know they're an aggressive team and that they're going to make a run. It's always a closer game (at the end) than it starts. But we came together, got some boards and passed out to shooters and Rilee and Caroline had some big threes. We have a very talented group. We can rely on a lot of different people."

Caroline Madden hit of 5 of 7 shots while scoring 12 of her 14 points in the first half, and Rilee Hasegawa added a trio of 3s in the second half on her way to 13 points. Forward Lauren Slagle did a little of everything on Thursday, finishing with 11 points, 3 blocks and 3 steals.

Vikings coach Sarah Meadows, whose team has not lost since falling to Barrington five weeks ago, is used to her team playing well. But she's also used to the Lancers battling back on her squad.

"They're hard workers, and we knew that coming in," Meadows said of the Lancers. "They work really hard and we've been in this gym before where we're up a lot and we walk out losers. So, I thought we played well in the first half, a little stale in the third quarter, and then better in the fourth quarter."

After a 19-7 advantage gave the visitors a 19-point lead at the break, Lake Park (10-9, 3-5) stormed out in the third quarter as forward Michela Barbanente had five baskets in the paint and guard Allie Gogola had a pair of 3s.

The Vikings built the lead back to 54-41 after three quarters but a 3 from the Lancers Grace Cord cut the gap to single digits at 55-46 with 5:52 left to play.

"Geneva's a really good team. They were hitting so many threes and they transition so fast. I'm so proud of the way our team came out in the second half. We just talked at halftime about how we had to compete and how we needed to play well in our gym," said Barbanente, who finished with 15 points. "We got some big 3s and all the 50-50 balls seemed to start going our way. We really got it going well but Geneva is just such a good team."

The Vikings didn't panic once the deficit was down to nine. Palmer hit a pair of free throws and Peri Sweeney followed with a three then and a 2-point basket and the lead quickly grew to 65-48 and Geneva was off and running.

"Geneva is Geneva. They're super efficient," Lake Park coach Brian Rupp said. "They transition well, and everyone's in the right spot ... I thought we handled their pressure well today. That second quarter there were some rough spots, but I thought we had control the first quarter.

"But you have a few turnovers and they start scoring on layups and that's what happened. That third quarter is what we want to build off this time of year."

Cord finished with 14 points and a game-high 8 rebounds for the Lancers, while Gogola finished with 9 points on three 3s.

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