By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
To someone watching the Geneva girls basketball team, it seems like the Eagles can turn a deficit into a sizeable lead relatively quickly. To coach Nancy Barbo, it seems as if it’s all happening in slow motion.
Trailing by two after eight minutes, the Eagles outscored Conneaut by 19 in the second period and skated to a 60-26 non-conference victory over Conneaut at Garcia Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Unhappy at her team having given up more than 10 points in the first quarter and with the Eagles trailing, 12-10, Barbo took the break between periods to wake up her team.
“After the first quarter, I kindly expressed my displeasure at giving up double digits (in points),” Barbo said. “We mixed things a little defensively and I think that helped a bit, too.”
“(Barbo) said we had to pick it up,” Geneva senior guard Becky Depp said. “She told us we couldn’t start flat. (Conneaut) played better than us. They were hustling.
“We had to pick it up there or we’d be down at halftime.”
Geneva (11-1, 6-1 in Premier Athletic Conference) was 9 of 17 (52.9 percent) from the field, hit five 3-pointers and forced 12 turnovers in the second quarter in outscoring the Spartans, 25-6.
To Barbo, that turnaround didn’t seem like it happened all too quickly.
“It seemed like an eternity to me,” she said.
Conneaut coach Tony Pasanen had a pretty good idea that kind of stretch was inevitable.
“I knew it would be tough to keep pace with them for four quarters,” he said. “Especially with Natalie (Bertalasio) still out and Lexi (Zappitelli) under the weather. I felt if we could shorten the game, we could play with them.
“The girls did a great job controlling the tempo and a good job communicating defensively (in the first quarter). We just ran out of gas.”
The Spartans (6-6) attempted just five shots in the second and forced only two turnovers.
Becky Depp knocked down three of the Eagles’ five treys in the second and Alyssa Scott Sarah Depp hit the others. Becky Depp, scoreless through the first 10 minutes, tallied 11 points in the period.
“We got steals and I went to the corner — that’s the spot that I usually hit from — and Sarah knew where I was. I got open looks,” Becky Depp said.
Conneaut had a difficult time deciding which of the Geneva scorers to take out of the equation. Becky Depp netted 14 points, Lindsey Mayle added 13 and Natalie Thomas scored nine.
“The problem with them is you have to pick your poison,” Pasanen said. “Mayle and Becky on the arc are deadly. Then they have Thomas inside. At the opening, we were doubling Thomas and trying to take away Mayle and Depp got hot. Then Mayle got hot.
“Give them credit. We didn’t know what else to do. Their pressure and speed were too much for us.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Conneaut. The Spartans led for the vast majority of the first quarter and held a 12-10 advantage through eight minutes.
“I’m proud of the girls for the way they came out,” Pasanen said. “That was the best 10 minutes of basketball I’ve seen all year.
“The thing I’m most proud of with the girls is they’re so focused on getting better every day. It would be easy to throw in the towel. These girls keep getting better and it will pay off in the near future.”
Dani Heinonen led Conneaut with eight points and Brooke Bennett and Lexi Zappitelli each scored five.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.