By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
The hallmark of Nancy Barbo’s Geneva girls basketball program has always been defense. The Eagles may have raised the bar a bit in that regard with a 57-7 non-conference victory over visiting Edgewood on Wednesday.
“(Defense) is (important to me),” Barbo said. “We have a defensive goal we want to meet every game. It was important tonight to get stops. We struggled to score early. Our defense was truly needed because of our offense.”
The Eagles (10-0, 6-0 in Premier Athletic Conference) held the Warriors scoreless of the final 19:33 of the contest.
“I’m going to say I was probably more aware of that than (the players) were,” Edgewood coach Dave McCoy said. “But you could see the frustration. We were taking hurried shots.”
Those shots were, in part, hurried because the Eagles were pressuring the Warriors (3-8) from baseline to baseline. That pressure forced 33 turnovers — 23 in the first half — and held the Warriors to just 12 shot attempts in the half. Edgewood was 3 of 34 (8.8 percent) in the game.
“To start the whole thing, we didn’t get back in transition on defense,” McCoy said. “We started the game in our normal manner, but we played very competitively in the first half. It was 24-7 (at the half), but I thought we playing pretty well.
“We didn’t run our offense. Credit Geneva. Their defense just took us out of an offense. We were just becoming more frustrated by the second.”
Playing without starters Becky Depp (ankle) and Emily O’Dell (team matter), the Eagles were looking to find offense from other sources.
“Like I’ve said before, I do think, as a unit, we have scorers on this team,” Barbo said. “Overall, they’re all very unselfish. I felt we moved the ball well and gave everybody touches.”
Natalie Thomas tallied 16 points — 8 in each half — to lead the Eagles.
“We had mismatches in the second half,” Barbo said. “We do try and capitalize on that as much as we can. Natalie just needs to make buckets and tonight, she did.”
“We always try and isolate the posts as much as possible,” Geneva senior guard Sarah Depp said. “We try and get (Thomas) the ball as much as possible. We’re very confident in her.”
Emily Ball and freshman Lindsey Mayle each added nine points and Sarah Depp added eight, five in the first quarter.
“We needed to move the ball more,” Depp said. “We had to keep our confidence. At the beginning, we weren’t making shots, but we kept with it.
“Becky wasn’t there so somebody had to step up. I was trying to make up for Becky as much as possible.”
Alyssa Scott provided a bit of a spark in the final two minutes of the first half for the Eagles with a 3-pointer and a pullup jumper. She also had three steals and three assists.
“That was good because it was her first game back,” Barbo said. “She’d been out a while. It was good for her to come back without any rust.”
Ball, Thomas and Annaliesa Fistek (6 points) combined for 31 rebounds for the Eagles.
Gia Saturday led the Warriors with three points. Keegan McTrusty and Alyssa Johnson each added two.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.