By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
After not playing for the better part of two weeks, the Geneva girls basketball team completed the second of back-to-back games with one its more efficient performances of the season Thursday night in beating visiting Perry, 55-17.
“I think the girls were just so hungry, (playing on consecutive days) hasn’t fazed them whatsoever,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “It was such a long time we were off, they just wanted to play some games.”
“Playing yesterday helped us today,” senior post Natalie Thomas said. “We worked on different defenses and that really prepared us for the rest of the season. Playing two games in a row also helps our conditioning. It’s better to be going at game speed than practice speed.
“I don’t know how long it was, but we were anxious to just get back to playing. We were just hungry to play. That helped us and how we played tonight.”
Usually after not playing for that amount of a time, a team will display a bit of rust. The Eagles (15-1, 8-1 in Premier Athletic Conference), however, were a rare exception.
“I was concerned about that even last night,” Barbo said. “Even (Wednesday) night (in a 64-18 win over Beaumont), I thought we ran many of our offensive sets well. Tonight, that continued. That’s what we need this time of year.
“They take a lot of pride playing on their home floor. It’s nice to put everything together.”
Geneva had four different players score each of its first four buckets and six players score in the first eight minutes.
“That’s really important for us,” Geneva freshman Lindsey Mayle said. “That gets the whole team motivated and everybody gets energized.”
After a 3-pointer from Perry’s Emily Clark, Geneva held a 6-5 lead 2:30 into the game. The Eagles then outscored the Pirates (6-10, 2-6 in Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division) 25-0 over the next eight minutes to take a 31-5 lead with 5:20 remaining in the half.
During that stretch, Perry was 0-10 from the field and was outrebounded, 19-5. Geneva was 11 17 (64.7 percent) from the field during that time.
“That’s a seasoned group and it showed,” Perry assistant coach Chuck Levkulich, filling in for head coach Mike Decker, who’s out with the flu, said. “They moved the ball well and they push slide really well on defense.”
Mayle picked up a loose ball and tossed in a 3-pointer from about 27 feet out at the buzzer to give Geneva a 39-8 halftime lead. Just minutes later, she was given a trophy for being named the National Guard Week 4 Player of the Week on jjhuddle.com.
“I was pretty astonished by (making that shot),” the point guard said. “I didn’t (think it would go in). It’s the end of the quarter, you just throw it and hope for the best.
“I looked (at the rim) for a split second.”
Mayle finished with four triples and 17 points to lead the Eagles. Thomas and Becky Depp each added 10 points.
Kayla Cool paced the Pirates with nine points.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.