Girls basketball: Brooke Carlson, Batavia win first sectional title

Senior guard posts 34 points, 11 rebounds in win over Geneva

Batavia players celebrate their Class 4A Batavia Sectional final win over Geneva on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.

BATAVIA – Brooke Carlson made sure Batavia’s rich basketball tradition got richer Feb. 22.

Behind the senior’s 34 points and 11 rebounds, the Bulldogs won their first sectional title with a 58-46 victory over Geneva in the Class 4A Batavia Sectional championship game.

Batavia (29-5) advanced to Monday’s Class 4A Bartlett Supersectional against Fremd, which it beat earlier this season 72-61 in the Morton Christmas Classic. Carlson erupted for 39 points in that late December win.

The Bulldogs, who have won 13 straight, jumped all over Geneva in the first half and withstood a strong comeback effort from the Vikings.

“Coming out in the second quarter and really stepping on them was really our main thing to do,” Carlson said. “We felt if we could get onto them fast we would be good and would keep it going for the rest of the game.”

Carlson’s hesitation move and finish at the rim gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead of the game at 23-13 midway through the second quarter.

On another pretty move, she came up short on her shot but grabbed the rebound and put it back in just before the first-half buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 32-13 lead.

“Brooke is awesome,” Batavia senior Addi Lowe said. “She’s so reliable and a great teammate. She always makes the open pass, too, and takes it when she needs to. She’s awesome.”

Batavia players (from left) Kylee Gehrt, Addi Lowe and Brooke Carlson celebrate their Class 4A Batavia Sectional final win over Geneva on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.

“I think we put a lot of trust into Brooke,” Batavia senior Sarah Hecht said. “We all work as one team, but obviously Brooke is our main scorer and everything. And if it doesn’t come from her, we all trust each other to go on those runs.”

Before the season began, Hecht believed the team could do something special. They’ve done it, but aren’t done yet either.

“After the first practice and the first games, we were like, ‘Wow, this is something we could potentially do,’ ” she said. “It’s definitely monumental, but the job is not finished. We’ve got one more game and then down to state and we’re going to keep it rolling.”

Carlson turned the game-opening tip into a layup four seconds later and kept on rolling during a night that culminated with the traditional cutting down of the nets.

“We talked about making the right type of plays and I feel like she was doing that all night long,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “And that’s where we’ve grown the most. Brooke, as well as some others, there are some spots where we might’ve forced a shot or forced a drive. We played with each other probably better tonight than we have all year and that was what we had to do.”

Geneva’s Keira McCann shoots the ball during the Class 4A Batavia Sectional final on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.

Geneva (23-9) didn’t help itself in the first half and the hole it created proved insurmountable.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “We know each other very well. We know this atmosphere and we had a really lousy start if I’m being honest. We had a lousy first half and we have to own that. The first half for us was just not good and that’s the ballgame.”

The Vikings outscored the Bulldogs 33-26 in the second half but it was too little, too late. The Vikings trailed by as much as 21 but got as close as 54-46 with 1:02 left.

“There were things that we needed to do in this game and that was get stops and rebound the ball,” Meadows said. “And we really did not do that in the first half.”

Senior Leah Palmer led Geneva with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Lucie Garnier had 10 points and senior Caroline Madden knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to score six points.

Having won two state titles and taken third place in state a season ago, Geneva has been the local power for girls basketball in the Tri-Cities. This season, it’s the Bulldogs who are left standing among a talented group that included the Vikings, St. Charles East and St. Charles North. The four teams are 98-32 combined. The Bulldogs would love to see the number of wins reach triple digits.

“There’s no guarantees,” Jensen said. “We feel like we’ve done all the right things. The girls have worked so hard. Our practices, especially early in the year, the tempo at which we play and everything is so high and then the schedule we play and the hours that all these kids have put in, we knew we were putting ourselves on a path, but again there is nothing guaranteed. At the end of the day, it’s one night and you never know what’s going to happen.”

What happened Feb. 22 was Carlson put on an unforgettable show.

“It’s amazing to see how many people are in my corner and supporting me,” she said. “I just try to do my best to be the best person and basketball player so whoever looks up to me and follows in my footsteps can be a good person and just play basketball the right way. And I think it’s amazing to see how everybody is with me and is cheering for me.”

Senior Hallie Crane added eight points for the Bulldogs and junior Kylee Gehrt scored six points.