By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
The Geneva girls basketball team had a well-kept secret in the form of Sarah Depp’s ability to score. The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, following the Eagles’ 62-28 victory over Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in a Division II sectional championship Thursday night at Pymatuning Valley.
Depp, somewhat content to let other Eagles do the scoring this season, netted 15 points.
“She’s capable of (scoring),” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “She’s just more content to let Becky (Depp) and Lindsey (Mayle) shoot.”
The top-seeded Eagles (20-2) will play fourth-seeded Lakeview, a 56-54 winner over Perry on Thursday, in a district semifinal Feb. 28.
“We’ll stick with what we’ve been doing,” Barbo said. “There are pros and cons to (having beaten Lakeview before).
“They’re definitely motivated more because they lost to you and want to redeem themselves. On the flip side, it gives your girls more confidence because they know they can beat them. We just have to play team basketball.”
The Eagles set the tone on the game’s opening possession. The Lions (8-16) won the tip and ran their offense for 33 seconds. Geneva never gave them an opening and NDCL was called for a travel.
Over the first 3:50, Geneva built an 8-0 advantage with Sarah Depp scoring four of those points.
“They took away our offense right from the get-go,” NDCL coach Joe Spicuzza said. “When we did get a good look, we couldn’t knock it down. We did get a few good looks. We just couldn’t knock them down. When you don’t knock them down, you get frustrated. You think the next one’s got to fall and it compounds the problem.
“It all started with their defense. They did a great job on defense.”
A 9-0 run early in the second quarter extended a 14-6 Eagles’ advantage at end of the first quarter into a 23-8 lead midway through the period.
Geneva led, 34-13 at the half and was 13 of 15 from the free-throw line.
“We knew they were a good foul-shooting team,” Spicuzza said. “But we just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The Eagles held the Lions to just 25-percent shooting (5 of 20) in the half.
“They’re a guard-oriented team,” Barbo said. “We knew they had a couple shooters. We shaded more toward them than we normally would and Sarah’s good at guarding the point guards and keeping them in front of her.
“The last thing we said to the girls was to contest every shot. At this stage in the game, there really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.”
Sarah Depp had scored 12 of her points in that first 16 minutes.
“She took advantage of the fact she was open,” Barbo said. “(NDCL) started in a triangle-and-two on Becky and Lindsey. All of the guards know if those two can’t get the ball, it’s their turn. Sarah was ready tonight.”
“Coach told me to take more of those opportunities,” Depp said. “I had to step up. I felt more confident in myself and took more shots. They were faceguarding Becky and Lindsey so I had to do as much as I could.”
Natalie Thomas supplemented Depp’s output with 14 points — many of which came as a function of her 11 rebounds.
“Becky had talked to me — I wasn’t able to come watch when they played Conneaut — and she told me they had smaller forwards and I had to be a key part,” Thomas said. “I made sure I was focused and ready to go.”
“That was a solid performance by her,” Barbo said. “She’s very good that when she gets her hand on the ball, she holds on, whether or not she gets bumped or nudged.”
Olivia Evans led the Lions with seven points and Jillian Miller added six.
After Sarah Depp and Thomas, the Eagles got big contributions from Mayle (10 points), Emily Ball (7 points) and Becky Depp (7 points).
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.