Geneva’s de­fense too much for Perry

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By John Kampf jkampf@news-her­ @nhpreps on Twit­ter

The de­fen­sive game plan for the Geneva girls bas­ket­ball team against vis­it­ing Perry on Jan. 13 was sim­ple.

The game plan read, “As soon as the Pi­rates step off the bus, jump on them, get in their face and make life mis­er­able for them.”

OK, that’s an ex­ag­ger­a­tion — ex­cept for the “make life mis­er­able for them” part.

Led by Emily Har­ri­man’s smoth­er­ing de­fense on Claire Dolan, Geneva’s de­fense dom­i­nated in a 41-29 win over Perry. The re­sult knocked the Pi­rates (111, 6-1) from the ranks of the un­beaten and put the Ea­gles (11-1, 6-0) ahead the pack in the CVC Cha­grin Divi­sion.

Thanks in part to their re­lent­less de­fen­sive ef­fort, the Ea­gles held the Pi­rates to 29 per­cent shoot­ing (12-for-41), well be­low their sea­son av­er­age of 41 per­cent.

Geneva also held Perry 23 points shy of their 52.5 pointsper-game scor­ing av­er­age.

“It’s in th­ese types of games where de­fense needs to be solid,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “This is what it means, ‘De­fense wins cham­pi­onships’ That’s ex­actly what I said at half­time.”

“I’m really happy with our ef­fort on that end.”

Cou­ple that with a strong per­for­mance in the paint by se­nior Hai­ley Peo­ples-O’Neil (17 points, seven re­bounds, four steals), and the Ea­gles had the per­fect recipe to knock off the reign­ing CVC Cha­grin cham­pi­ons.

“Oh, we’re al­ways talk­ing, ‘Perry’s com­ing up, Perry’s com­ing up,’ ” Har­ri­man said, adding her team had the Pi­rates cir­cled on the sched­ule. “But we know it’s one at a time. That’s what coach al­ways tells us.”

Perry led only once, 2-0, on an Emily Hol­royd bucket to start the game. But Geneva scored the next seven points and never let Perry get closer than three points the rest of the game.

There were two crit­i­cal points in the sec­ond half. A 5-2 run to start the third quar­ter al­lowed Geneva to stretch its lead to dou­ble dig­its at 23-12. Then a 6-0 run to start the fourth quar­ter pretty much took all hope from the Pi­rates.

In be­tween, Perry was whis­tled for an on­court tech­ni­cal foul that erased a pos­si­ble scor­ing op­por­tu­nity in a 2417 game and sent Geneva to the free throw line, where fresh­man Abby Carter net­ted both char­ity tosses.

Perry trailed by dou­ble fig­ures for all but 52 sec­onds of the fourth quar­ter.

“De­fense is Geneva’s spe­cialty,” Perry coach Brindi Kan­del said. “They’re prob­a­bly one of the best de­fen­sive teams we play. But we got in our own heads, too. I think the game sped up in our minds and we weren’t able to slow it down.”

Slow­ing down Peo­plesO’Neil was a prob­lem, too. The 5-foot-11 ath­letic for­ward, who missed much of last sea­son with a torn ACL, had a game-high 17 points. She scored three buck­ets in the pull-away fourth quar­ter, two on put­backs and one on a re­bound and coast-to-coast layup.

“Go­ing into the game, we said what would de­cide the game is keep­ing them off the boards, and we didn’t do that,” Kan­del said of her team, which was out­re­bounded, 35-27. “She’s a great player. I’m glad she’s a se­nior.”

Carter had 10 points, six re­bounds and four as­sists.

While Har­ri­man had only five points, it was her de­fense on Dolan that stood out the most.

Dolan, av­er­ag­ing 14 points per game, was held score­less on three lon­grange at­tempts.

“When she gets some­thing in her head she wants to ac­com­plish, she’s pretty good at ac­com­plish­ing it,” said Barbo of Har­ri­man’s de­fen­sive mind­set.

Said Har­ri­man, “(Dolan) is a great player. I knew com­ing in I had to hold her down. Thank­fully it hap­pened . ... It was a team ef­fort.”

Maken­zie Hack­ing scored a team-lead­ing 10 points, while fresh­man Elle In­falvi had eight. Fresh­man Madyson Hack­ing had six points and a team-high seven re­bounds.

“I don’t think we were in an of­fen­sive rhythm all night,” Kan­del said. “We need to do a bet­ter job of set­ting screens and get­ting open. We have other shoot­ers (be­sides Dolan). They have to step up and hit those shots.”

Perry hosts Cor­ner­stone Chris­tian on Jan. 17.

“This is one game out of 22,” Kan­del said. “Our goal wasn’t to beat Geneva. It was to get bet­ter ev­ery day. Our kids buy into that. We’ll be bet­ter for hav­ing gone through this to­day.”

For Geneva, which plays Har­vey on Jan. 17, the road is long, in­clud­ing a sec­ond go-around with the CVC, two re­main­ing games against Cha­grin Falls and a re­match with the Pi­rates at Perry on Feb. 10.

“They’re pretty driven. Th­ese seniors know. They have a sense of ur­gency,” Barbo said. “This is it. Ev­ery game is ‘the last this’ or ‘the last that.’ They want to cap­ture a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship be­fore they go out.”

With de­fense they way they played it on Jan. 13, the Ea­gles are cer­tainly within reach of that goal.


Geneva coach Nancy Barbo talks to her team dur­ing a time­out dur­ing the Ea­gles’ win over Perry on Jan. 13.



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