By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Defending the Geneva girls basketball team is much luck wrestling an octopus. You can tie up a number of arms, but eventually, one of the free arms is going to be the one that cuts of your air.
Jefferson chose to try and cut off the inside game and the Eagles’ outside game did the damage in a 56-33 Geneva victory at Falcon Gymnasium.
“Jefferson will always be our rival, whether they are in our conference or not,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “Winning on their home floor is always nice for us.
“When I first started coaching, they were the team to beat. They’re a quality program and we have a lot of respect for them. It’s always nice to get a win against them.”
Three first-quarter triples from Lindsey Mayle and an old-fashioned three-point play from Natalie Thomas had the Eagles (17-1, 9-1 in Premier Athletic Conference) in front, 18-10, after eight minutes.
“I was surprised we were able to get looks as open as we were,” Barbo said. “Luckily, we were able to knock the shots. That carried us the rest of the game.”
Mayle’s first trey came just 30 seconds in. Thomas’ three-point play gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead with 3:44 to go in the period. Mayle’s second 3-ball made it 15-8 and her third had the score at 18-9 with 33 seconds left in the quarter.
“They shoot the ball very well,” Jefferson coach Rod Holmes said. “They got open shots and they shot it well.
“We didn’t give the outside to them. We wanted to pressure their shots. They moved the ball well and hit their shots. With them doing that, they’re going to be tough to beat.”
Eight turnovers cost the Falcons (8-12, 2-6 in All-American Conference) in the second quarter. As did a pair of 3-pointers from Becky Depp as Geneva took a 30-14 lead into the break.
“We definitely turned it over too much,” Holmes said. “Their pressure caused us to turn it over too much.”
Jessica Becker took control for Jefferson coming out of the locker room. The diminutive guard drove for a bucket and assisted LeeAnn Farr on two others as the Falcons cut their deficit to 10, 30-20, with 6:21 to play in the third.
“The second half, they used the same pressure, but we adjusted well to it in the third,” Holmes said. “That was one of the better third quarters we’ve played this year.”
“The start of the third, when we were stale, that’s when we needed to start working the ball inside,” Barbo said. “Instead, we were content to stand outside and take the open jumpers.
“Credit Jefferson. They broke our defense down and broke our momentum in the third quarter. They put us on our heels a bit and we started playing almost desperation defense. They took advantage of it.”
A 3-pointer from Mayle shifted momentum back to the Eagles and extended the Geneva lead to 37-24 with 2:19 left in the quarter.
“They hit a couple in a row there in the third,” Holmes said. “We had it as low as 10, but we turned it over, they made a layup and they hit a couple 3s and all of a sudden, it’s right back up there.”
Farr and Becker each tallied a bucket as Geneva led, 39-29, to end the third.
Consecutive treys from Mayle and Alyssa Scott gave the Eagles a 47-31 lead and all but sealed the Geneva victory.
“I did feel those shots would drop eventually,” Barbo said. “They’re good shooters and they’re not going to miss that many in a row. I do feel those shots are going to drop for us, eventually. I just didn’t like how many empty possessions we had in a row.”
Mayle led all scorers with 19 points and added six assists. Thomas netted 13 points and seven rebounds and Depp scored 10 points.
Farr paced the Falcons with 13 points and Becker netted eight.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.