Girls basketball: Geneva gets revenge against St. Charles North

Senior Leah Palmer scores 24 points in DuKane Conference win

Geneva’s Leah Palmer passes the ball away from St. Charles North’s Laney Stark during a game at Geneva on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.

GENEVA – Payback time arrived for Geneva on Feb. 6.

Almost a month ago, the Vikings suffered a tough seven-point road loss to St. Charles North. The defeat stung the Vikings for many reasons, including in the DuKane Conference race.

The Vikings committed turnovers at an alarming rate, finishing with 25 turnovers to snap their historic 34-game conference winning streak.

In the rematch, the Vikings struggled with early turnovers – six giveaways in the first quarter – and offensive flow but managed to recover in the second quarter to gain a measure of revenge.

Geneva sophomore guard Keira McCann jump-started the turnaround, drilling 3-pointers from all around the circle to finish with a career-high five 3-pointers and 16 points and Leah Palmer added a game-high 24 points in a 49-39 victory over St. Charles North.

“We did a good job of driving and kicking tonight,” McCann said. “The first time we had trouble with that, so to come out and do that this game and everyone was on, it was very good.”

Palmer, a four-year varsity starter, put her typical big-game stamp on Geneva’s comeback win.

“That first game definitely showed our growth from throughout the season – to be able to handle their press and length very well,” Palmer said. “We had a bunch of players step up tonight, so I’m really proud of how everybody handled that adversity and came back and fought hard. It’s been a great season. I hope we can continue it to the postseason.”

Palmer closed out her home career with a momentum-building victory for the playoffs, rising above a rough first quarter to hit threes 3s and display toughness in the post.

McCann, a first-year varsity player, was the X-factor in the Vikings’ victory.

“We didn’t get into detail on how we played the last time, which might have helped us a little bit,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “I’m really proud of our kids. They really showed up tonight and did a nice job and beat a really good team. They are going to have a nice run and hopefully we play them again.

“Keira has stepped up in some big situations for us and she played lights-out tonight, for sure. Leah is a very good basketball player. I’m happy for her. She’s had a great career here. I’m super proud of her.”

Both teams certainly would love a rematch in the playoffs. If both win their regionals, they will meet up in a Batavia Sectional semifinal Feb. 20.

The Vikings (20-8, 12-2) jumped ahead of the North Stars (25-4, 11-3) in the conference standings to finish the regular season in second place.

McCann helped open up the floor on offense, finding the vulnerable spots in St. Charles North’s zone defense to help the Vikings build a double-digit lead early in the third quarter. McCann finished with five points in the previous meeting with the North Stars.

“I had a rough night the last time,” McCann said. “The past few games have been off for me and also the warmups. To come out and shoot well was very good to see. The team played great today. Everyone did a good job.”

Laney Stark led the North Stars with 10 points. Katrina Stack had nine points and Elle Fuhr added eight.

“They shot the ball very well tonight,” St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak said. “I think a number of their shots were contested. We didn’t close out hard enough. When you see a couple of girls get hot early, that should [force] us to close out even harder and we didn’t do that. We could potentially see them down the road again. Defensively, we’ve been doing a nice job this year. We hope this will give us a chance to get better. … We can learn from this and the film will be valuable. I’m excited for this group. We couldn’t throw one in the ocean tonight, so hopefully we will leave that behind.”