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Columnist
Geneva streaking at right time
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Columnist

John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com Elgin's Kory Brown has his dunk attempt blocked by St. Charles North's Quinton Payne in the first half Wednesday in Elgin.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

The two leading scorers from last year's sectional game between Geneva and Cary-Grove return tonight: the Vikings' Sammy Scofield, above, and the Trojans' Claire Jakubicek, right.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

Images from the Cary-Grove vs. Huntley girls basketball game Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/24/2011 12:52 AM

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A few odds and ends on the off day between Geneva's sectional semifinal win Tuesday at Jacobs and the Vikings' spot in tonight's championship game against Cary-Grove...

• Geneva (24-6) enters Thursday with a 9-game winning streak, but I think a different 5-game streak is much more impressive.

The Vikings are now 5-0 in sectional play the last three years. They haven't lost a sectional game since Montini beat them back in the two-class system for the Addison Trail championship in 2006, the freshman season for all-time leading scorer Taylor Whitley.

I've seen all those games, and the most recent win, 70-60 over Rockton Hononegah, gets my vote for most exciting. It's the only one Geneva had to come from behind in the fourth quarter, though the Vikings did break free from a tie game late in 2009 against Elk Grove.

Tuesday's comeback brought back memories of last year's regional championship win over St. Charles North, who had Geneva down 10 points late in the third quarter. The Vikings had an even bigger comeback during the regular season, winning against Glenbard West after trailing by 14.

But a comeback like Tuesday's, against a quality opponent like Hononegah that had an All-State star in Brea Edwards, a 6-foot-4 junior center Nicole Smith going to Wisconsin and a sparkling 28-3 record, can only help Geneva going forward.

• If Geneva can carry momentum from Tuesday's win, it starts tonight against a Cary-Grove team that gave Geneva all it wanted in last year's Huntley sectional semifinals.

The Vikings never trailed in that 48-41 win, but Cary was within 25-24, 29-28 and 36-35 until Geneva pulled away with late free throws.

Geneva returns three starters from that game Sammy Scofield, Kat Yelle and Ashley Santos who combined for 35 points: 16, 10 and 9, respectively.

Cary returns NIU recruit Claire Jakubicek who scored 22 of her team's 41 points in that 2010 game. She and her sister Olivia are the only returning staters. Guard Megan Straumann was out with an ACL injury.

• Off subject for a minute. If there's one good thing about an 8:20 p.m. start like Tuesday night, it's driving home south on Randall Road around midnight. Imagine traffic always like that?

• OK, back to basketball. Geneva coach Gina Nolan couldn't say enough about how the entire team pulled together for Tuesday's win.

That includes the ninth person in the game Dori Rogers, who immediately drained a long jumper to help Geneva stay in control in the second quarter and build a 34-25 halftime lead.

"Dori, I can't say enough about how hard she works at practice day in and day out," Nolan said. "She's a smart player so when she gets in there I know she knows where she's going and what she's doing out there. She's been playing really well when she's got minutes the last couple weeks. Just a huge shot to knock down and gave us time to keep those other kids off the floor when they had two or three fouls.

"We kind of kept going down the line in guards but we are blessed to be so deep in that. Everyone has confidence in each other. The team cohesion really showed."

• How about some of the upsets at other sectionals? Bartlett and Fenwick, two teams that beat Geneva this year, gone. Same with previously unbeaten Libertyville who figured to be the Barrington supersectional opponent for the Geneva-Cary Grove winner until Zion-Benton knocked them out.

The path is there for Geneva's second state team in three years, which would be some story considering what the Vikings have gone through between losing freshman center Sidney Santos on the first day of practice and Nolan's return from cancer.

jlemon@dailyherald.com