Unbeaten Carmel turns back Geneva

Geneva's Cassidy Arni and Leah Palmer are going to do whatever it takes to try to win girls basketball games.

They demonstrated that Saturday at the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase at Fremd.

Arni took a pair of charges on back-to-back possessions during a third-quarter comeback and Palmer repeatedly crashed the offensive boards to keep the Vikings' hopes alive against unbeaten Carmel.

In the end, it wasn't quite enough as Carmel, which surrendered a 14-point lead, eventually held on for a 42-36 victory.

"They're tough," Carmel coach Ben Berg said of the Vikings. "I like games like this because I think it's going to make us better as the season goes on.

"When the game was on the line, we played tough today. I was very proud of the girls."

The Corsairs (7-0) had a significant height advantage with 6-foot-4 guard Jordan Wood, 6-3 center Grace Sullivan and 6-1 forward Mia Gillis.

That trio accounted for all but 2 points for Carmel in the first half. Wood, a Michigan State commit, had 14 of her 16 points as the Corsairs built a 24-10 lead at intermission.

But Palmer, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, 8 of which came on the offensive end, sank a 3-pointer to start the third quarter.

That triggered an 18-3 run that saw Arni draw charging fouls on Kyla Smith and then Wood, who then went to the bench with her third foul. Point guard Rilee Hasegawa then drained a 3-pointer off a feed from Caroline Madden to give Geneva (4-2) a 28-27 lead midway through the third quarter.

"We struggled offensively in the first half, but our kids have fight in them," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "That's never a question. We've just got to get a little better offensively."

Palmer had 2 3-pointers during the run and aggressively battled Carmel's bigs on the boards.

"We knew in the first half our offense was a little slow because we weren't hitting down shots," Palmer said. "When we came down in the third quarter and we hit a couple 3s, that kind of got our offense going.

"It led the charge to the comeback."

But the Corsairs responded by holding the Vikings scoreless for the rest of the third quarter. Geneva missed 7 straight shots before Madden scored on a drive to pull her team within 33-30 with 6:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Sullivan, who had 12 points and 8 rebounds, answered with a pair of free throws and Geneva went scoreless for the next 4:22, during which Carmel went on a 7-0 run to pull away.

Arni, who finished with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 6 steals, said the loss was a learning experience.

"I think we put up a good fight," Arni said. "We know what we've got to work on and it will help us against every other team."

The Vikings have to work on getting Arni and Palmer some help offensively. They have struggled since losing 6-1 junior forward Lauren Slagle to an ankle injury in Monday's 70-56 loss to Naperville North.

"Both of them played really well," Meadows said. "We've got to get a third scorer. That's the thing we're struggling with right now. We can't rely on two kids to win basketball games."

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