Girls basketball: Geneva’s Palmer lifts Vikings to win over Naperville North

Senior leader tallies 23 points, nine rebounds

Naperville North’s Kendall Johnson and Geneva’s Leah Palmer and Lucie Garnier, right, reach for the ball in a girls basketball game in Naperville on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

NAPERVILLE – Geneva senior Leah Palmer says that she’s definitely going to continue her basketball career after graduation, but hasn’t chosen a college yet.

Whatever she decides, the school that lands her will be very lucky indeed.

Palmer excelled on both ends of the court Tuesday night in a 58-39 nonconference victory at Naperville North.

The senior scored a game-high 23 points, had nine rebounds and three blocked shots in leading her team to a win over the previously unbeaten Huskies (3-1).

“She does everything for us,” said Vikings coach Sarah Meadows. “She rebounds, scores the three and can drive to the basket.”

“What really impresses me about her is that she’s always at the boards and she works her tail off to get rebounds. That’s huge for us.”

Geneva’s Peri Sweeney and Naperville North’s Ema Gilvydis battle for the ball in a girls basketball game in Naperville on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

Sophomore guard Natalie Frempong scored 20 points for Naperville North and played a great all-around floor game.

“We’re really proud of her,” said first-year Huskies coach Aly Miller. “She was up on varsity last year and learned a lot about the game, and learned the pace of the varsity game.

“She’s only gotten better over the summer. She’s a great playmaker for us, and her basketball IQ is way up there. Natalie does a nice job of getting to the basket and shooting from the perimeter.”

The first quarter was back and forth as both teams pressed the pace, with Geneva (3-2) coming away with a 16-14 lead.

“North plays hard, and they play physical,” said Meadows. “I was really impressed with them.

“I don’t think we expected that type of physicality from them. But when our kids settled in and they knew what type of a game it was going to be, they were ready for it.”

The second quarter was a different story as the Vikings defense held the Huskies to 4 points in the period, taking a 29-18 advantage to halftime.

Naperville North’s Sydni Fink tries to get past Geneva’s Caroline Madden in a girls basketball game in Naperville on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

“Naperville North came ready to play,” said Palmer. “They’re a very fast team so we really had to adjust to their speed, on offense and on defense.

“Once we did, we didn’t attack as much on our (full-court) press because we knew how fast they were off the dribble. We kind of stayed back and let them come to us.”

Palmer added that when the Vikings opened up the double-digit advantage, it was all about staying the course in the second half.

“We wanted to keep our lead,” she said, “slow down, and move the ball.”

A 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the third quarter by Huskies senior Ella Chapman gave the home team a spark, but Palmer answered right back with a 3, and the Vikings kept extending the lead.

Geneva (3-2) senior Kinsey Gracey scored 7 of her 15 points in the final period to help close out the win.

Caroline Madden scored 7 points for the Vikings, while Sydni Fink tallied 8 for Naperville North.

Sophomore Ema Gilvydis came off the bench and gave a strong effort for the Huskies on the boards in the second half, grabbing 8 rebounds.

“They (Geneva) definitely wanted to speed up the pace of the game,” said Huskies coach Miller. “Early on we were right in it, but we fell a little bit short.

“It’s early, though. This was our first home game, and I think we had to get the jitters out a little bit.”