McCann helps Geneva overtake Wheaton North in fourth quarter

Caroline Madden is a player that is already well-established in her reputation for toughness and defense as a guard for Geneva.

Sophomore Keira McCann, in her first varsity season, embodies those same types of aspects when called upon for the Vikings.

Madden and the team, of course, see it up close.

“I think [McCann brings] her hard work. She’s just always hustling. She’s never taking a play off and I think that’s what gets her so many rebounds,” Madden said following Geneva’s 54-41 win over Wheaton North on Friday. “That’s what gets her open for shots. She has a lot of clutch [3-pointers] in our past few games. I think [it stems from] her mentality and hard work.”

The Vikings (8-3, 5-0) continued their unbeaten streak in the DuKane Conference.

McCann hauled in six rebounds and six points for the Vikings in a complementary role. The effort is carrying over game to game. Up on varsity this season after playing on sophomore-level last season, McCann is looking the part more and more.

“Keira played really well tonight, and she played really well [last week] against Batavia, too,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “She’s a sophomore kid and we’re buying into her. She plays really calm, cool, collected and very, very smart. She’s a very smart basketball player, so she’ll grow, mature and get better and better every year.”

McCann’s rebounds led to multiple second chances for the Vikings, who were able to pull away from the Falcons in the fourth quarter.

Geneva led 40-39 going into the final frame.

Leah Palmer and Wheaton North’s Macy Pomatto traded layups to open the quarter, but McCann hit two free throws to kick off a 12-0 Vikings run. Palmer followed up with consecutive layups, while Peri Sweeney corralled a putback for the 50-41 Geneva led with 2:23 remaining. Palmer hit two free throws and then Madden put the nice finish on the quarter with a layup in the final 20 seconds.

Palmer followed up her scoring barrage from last week with 23 points and six rebounds. Madden had seven rebounds to go with five points, while Sweeney had five points for the Vikings.

“I feel like I’m able to come in...go in there and make open shots,” McCann said. “Leah, Caroline, Kinsey [Gracey], everyone, we do a good job of driving and kicking and the open shot [is] consistently going to be there. Just being able to go in and knock those down is huge for us.”

Wheaton North (7-7, 0-5) struggled in the fourth quarter, but had legitimate stretches in the second and third quarter to build leads. Wheaton North sophomore Brigitte Noyes suffered an apparent right leg injury in the opening 20 seconds of the second half and did not return.

“...She means a lot inside. You can tell rebounding-wise,” Falcons coach Tyler Bantz said. “After she went out, that’s how they [Geneva] scored a bunch of their points. They were playing volleyball off the backboard and we just were not very physical. They got a ton of second-chance points at the end of the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter.”

The Falcons, still, built an eight-point lead in the aftermath, but Geneva was able to claw back with Palmer, McCann, Lucie Garnier and Gracey all making shots to take the lead, 38-35, with 2:13 left in the third quarter.

Falcons sophomore Anna Leich hit two free throws and Zoey Bohmer (eight points) sunk a jumper for the slight lead, but Palmer hit a layup before the end of the quarter to set the stage for the finish.

Sara Abdul led with 15 points for the Falcons.

“...We just didn’t really execute in the last eight minutes for sure, but [Noyes] is a big part of our defense and then she does some nice things offensively, too, but defensively, she clogs up the lane,” Bantz said.

Wheaton North’s Sara Abdul drives toward the basket during a game at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Geneva’s Kinsey Gracey (center) dribbles between a pair of Wheaton North defenders during a game at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Geneva’s Caroline Madden (left) and Wheaton North’s Zoey Bohmer battle for a loose ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Wheaton North’s Zoey Bohmer passes the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Wheaton North’s Mira Spillane shoots the ball over Geneva’s Kinsey Gracey during a game at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Geneva’s Hope Ieler drives toward the basket during a game against Wheaton North at Geneva on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
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