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Geneva's Sami Pawlak (left) and Streamwood's Hannah McGlone battle for a rebound Friday. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Geneva dominated the first half, but it took everything it had to hold off Streamwood and come away with a 54-43 victory Friday night.
The win pulls the Vikings (13-10, 7-2) into a tie atop the Upstate Eight River division standings with the Sabres (17-5, 8-2), who could have locked up a share of the conference title with a win.
“We really, really stressed in practice all week that, this is it, to have any part of winning conference was in our hands tonight, and we didn’t want to have to rely on everyone else,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said.
The Vikings came out like a team in a must-win game as they shot 15-of-29 from the floor in the first half, leading 21-9 at the end of the first quarter and 35-19 heading into the break.
They still held a 15-point lead heading into the final quarter when the Sabres turned to their fullcourt, man-to-man defense.
After a Morgan Seberger basket to open the quarter pushed the Vikings lead to 47-30, the Sabres rattled off a 9-0 run aided by four straight steals.
A Kimberly Jimenez steal and layup capped the run and pulled the Sabres within eight — the first time the Vikings’ lead had been under double-digits since Streamwood trailed 11-4 in the first quarter.
“We’re not going to give up, we’re not going to quit, we’re going to keep fighting,” Streamwood coach George Rosner said. “We play that kind of defense early on and we win the game.”
The Vikings managed to break the press on their next possession and Kelly Gordon got an easy layup to pull the lead back to 10, and while the game was far from over at that point it seemingly killed the Sabres’ momentum and they were unable to pull any closer.
With the win, the Vikings avenged a 53-45 loss back on Dec. 12. They looked like a different team last time the two squared off.
“We knew that last time we played them that we didn’t play our best, and they had a lot of confidence because of that last game, but we knew that it was very possible for us to win tonight,” Geneva senior Sami Pawlak said.
Pawlak led the charge for the Vikings with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Sidney Santos and Abby Novak each chipped in 10 points and six rebounds. Seberger had 10 points as well, and Gordon added eight points and nine rebounds.
For Streamwood, it was an off night for its “Big Three” as one sign in the stands called them. Deja Moore, Jessica Cerda and Hannah McGlone combined for just 33 points on 10-of-38 shooting.
Cerda led the way with 14 points on the strength of four three-pointers, while McGlone had 12 points and six rebounds and Moore added seven points and eight rebounds.
Streamwood has two conference games left, as it will face off against Larkin and Batavia next week. Geneva has three games remaining, against Larkin, Elgin and St. Charles North.