GENEVA — Geneva fended off a late comeback attempt and beat Parma 62-56 in Saturday’s season opener at Geneva.
The Eagles led by 17 early in the fourth quarter and Jordan Vencill hit a free throw with roughly three minutes remaining to take a 57-44 advantage. The Redmen flipped a switch and stormed back.
Amaris DeJesus hit a pair of foul shots and then her teammates followed with three steals, an offensive rebound and six straight points to close the deficit down to three. The Redmen got within two points, 58-56, with less than 90 seconds remaining, but Geneva never allowed them to get any closer.
Vencill nailed both ends of a one-and-one, and then Gabbi Selman and Hope Stanley added a free throw apiece to ice the game. Parma did not score a point in the final 90 seconds of play.
“A lot of it came with our heart,” Stanley said, explaining how her team withheld Parma’s 12-1 run in the fourth. “We’re a very young team, so we might not have the scorers that we need, but our defense is where we always focus the most on and we just gave it our all and had to push through it.”
The Eagles built their lead on hustle plays in the second and third quarters after a slow start to the game. They turned the ball over twice before attempting their first shot and struggled to create anything in the half court, so they just willed the ball into the basket by pounding the glass and forcing turnovers.
Stanley scored the first basket on a fast break and added a free throw after a steal on Parma’s ensuing possession. The Eagles forced a five-second violation and drew an offensive foul, and Vencill added two more baskets on the other end, both second-chance opportunities, to cap off a 7-0 run and take a 9-6 lead late in the quarter.
Geneva opened the second quarter on a 14-3 run. Olivia Wilms and Vencill both scored second-chance points, Kelly Calhoon and Stanley both turned steals into layups and Kassie Emmett picked up two assists on a pair of nice passes.
The Eagles forced 18 turnovers in the first half, including four steals from Stanley, and 30 in the game. They also outrebounded Parma 42-18 thanks in large part to a 16-0 rebounding differential in the third quarter.
Twenty-seven of Geneva’s 42 rebounds came on the offensive end.
“Those hustle possessions were great because coach [Mike Hassett] always tells us hustle for every ball, get on the floor for those loose ones and on-and-up on defense,” Vencill said. “And once we were there, we were just up and down the floor the whole time getting those balls and getting all those offensive possessions.”
Vencill recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs. Stanley had 10 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists.
Emmett, Wilms and Calhoon finished with eight, seven and six points, respectively.
“Our seniors [Vencill and Stanley] stepped up,” Hassett said. “I’m glad that we kept our composure and that sort of thing. With the young girls, they kind of just get out of control a little bit, go a little faster than they want to, but I'm happy. Kassie Emmett and Gabbi Selman I thought really contributed and did a nice job.
“Only thing we gotta work on is free-throw shooting [19-30]. Not happy giving up the amount of points we did, but I’m happy that the young girls got a victory today.”
Parma threw a unique half-court press that caused Geneva some problems throughout the game. Two defenders stood at center court, angled toward the middle of the court in an effort to trap Geneva’s ball handler — Stanley for the majority of possessions.
At times, Stanley managed to just run around the two defenders, but Geneva made other adjustments that really opened up the court.
“They were trying to trap me to get me in a dead ball situation so I would turn it over and so we had to adjust and bring another guard back to make it hard so I could pass it,” Stanley said. “And so then the defense would fully shift and that made it easier for us to start our offense.”
Geneva will visit Madison on Tuesday. The Blue Streaks, who do not have a single senior, are 1-1 after a win over Lakeside Friday and a loss to Fitch Saturday.
“It should be a good game,” said Hassett, who was in attendance for the Madison-Lakeside game. “They're a young team also, they have no seniors, but they’re deeper than what we are. They like to press, we will press and it should be back and forth. Whoever plays the better defense and doesn’t commit the turnovers will win the game.”