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South Elgin's Nadia Yang (left) and Geneva's Michaela Loebel scramble for a loose ball Tuesday. | Joe Cyganowski-For Sun-Times Media
At crunch time it always helps to have experience on the court.
For the Geneva girls basketball team Tuesday night in an Upstate Eight crossover game at South Elgin, an experienced lineup was everything as the Vikings remained composed despite facing a six-point deficit with 3:21 remaining and pulled out a 72-66 overtime victory.
"We all stepped up," Geneva senior Michaela Loebel said. "South Elgin is a great team and we knew they would keep fighting until the end. Without each individual, we would not have put together the run we did."
Loebel made her biggest contribution in overtime by hitting the Storm with a three-point shot and three-point play in a matter of a minute and a half. Then Janie McCloughan sank a layup on the fast break to complete an 8-0 run at the outset of overtime. South Elgin never recovered.
"We didn't take care of the ball down the stretch," South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast said. "We had a couple of missed layups where we were attacking the glass and were doing exactly what I wanted them to do -- we didn't want to just pull up with the ball.
"But they knocked down a couple huge 3-pointers. At some point you've got to say, let's not beat ourselves up; Geneva played really well down the stretch."
Down 52-46, Geneva's Morgan Seberger hit a three-pointer and, after a turnover, Sidney Santos sank a game-tying three-pointer with 1:14 left in regulation. But Geneva needed one more three-pointer -- a bomb by Seberger with 18 seconds left following 3-of-4 free throws by South Elgin's Nadia Yang.
Geneva (4-1) still almost lost when the Storm's Savanah Uveges stole the ball near the sideline and drove but missed a layup attempt at an awkward angle as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
"We knew this was going to be a good game going in," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "South Elgin is a tough team. They play hard. They don't stop. They're scrappy.
"As soon as they switched to their man defense (in the second quarter) they gave us a good run for the money."
McCloughan had 13 points off the bench to lead Geneva, which made 10-of-17 from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime. Seberger had 12 points, Loebel and Santos 11 each and Madeline Dunn 10 for Geneva.
Yang led South Elgin (3-3) with 20 points but suffered a sprained ankle in the last couple seconds of overtime. Uveges had 14 points and Anna Tracy 10, while Mackie Keller had eight points, 12 rebounds and played strong defense on Santos.
"In overtime they had a lot of momentum," Prendergast said. "I thought we were a little tired in the overtime.