The Geneseo High School girls’ basketball team’s season came to an end this past week at sectionals, but not before the Lady Leafs captured their first regional title since 2002.


The Geneseo High School girls’ basketball team’s season came to an end this past week at sectionals, but not before the Lady Leafs captured their first regional title since 2002.

Geneseo vs. Peoria Richwoods

Defending state champs Peoria Richwoods were just too much for the Lady Leafs to handle Feb. 22 in IHSA Sectional action. Richwoods advanced to the sectional title as they defeated Geneseo by a wide-margin, 62-30.

“Richwoods is an outstanding team, but they are not 30 points better than us,” said head coach Steve Brucher. “Richwoods shot the ball very well in the first half and we shot very, very poorly. We were 9-of-48 from the field. We haven’t shot that poorly all year.”

After scoring four points at the start of the first quarter, the Lady Leafs went cold, while the Lady Knights caught fire from all areas of the court. Richwoods led 18-4 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter didn’t prove to be any better for Geneseo as the only managed to score four points, while Richwoods drained 25 points to take the 43-8 advantage at the half.

“In the second quarter, Richwoods went on a run and it just seemed like the basket got bigger for them and ours got smaller,” said Brucher. “We forced some shots, but a credit to our girls they were trying to make plays and make something happen.”

Geneseo found themselves at the start of the second half with some major ground to cover. The Lady Leafs came out in the third quarter and scored eight points, while the Lady Knights hit 11 for a 54-16 score.

The Lady Leafs continued to fight in the fourth quarter, knocking down 14 points and were able to hold Richwoods to eight in the final minutes, but it wasn’t enough.

“It is a compliment to our basketball team for them having shown pride if nothing else,” said Brucher. “They went out and competed and played hard in the second half.”

Allison Wiese led the offensive effort for Geneseo with 11 points, hitting 6-of-6 from the foul line, a field goal and a shot from beyond the arc.

Natalie Witter added six points with two free throws and two field goals, followed by Keatyn?DeGrave and Jena Rice who both scored three points — DeGrave with a three pointer and Rice a field goal and a free throw.

Kassi Anderson, Devan Griffin and Allie Hudson all contributed two points, each with a field goal and Kelsey Burress hit a free throw for her lone point of the game.

Geneseo vs. Rock Island

It was a nail biter of a game for the Lady Leafs as the squad narrowly escaped Rock Island in the final seconds of the IHSA Regional Championship game Feb. 18 in Galesburg. Geneseo prevailed with a 40-39 victory to advance to sectionals.

This was Geneseo’s first regional title in eight years. The last title was won in 2002.

“I think that (winning the regional title) was a great accomplishment for this basketball team,” said Brucher.?“I know they were a little disappointed with how the conference shaped out, but to their credit they refocused and put together a real good week of basketball at regionals. The sheer joy and excitement on the girls’ faces (after winning regionals) was great to see.”

Geneseo took the early lead, 9-8 in the first quarter, but it didn’t last long as Rock Island snagged the 21-16 advantage at the half. The Rocks posted 13 points in the second quarter and held Geneseo to seven.

In the third quarter, the Lady Leafs began to close in on Rock Island, scoring 15 points to the Rocks’ 12 to bring Geneseo within two, 33-31. Geneseo continued to fight its way back and scored nine points in the fourth, while only allowing six Rock points and were able to hold off the Rocks’ attempts to score in the final seconds.

“That has been the label on this team the last couple weeks that they keep competing, fighting and clawing their way back,” said Brucher. “We had two baskets in the fourth quarter on a side out play and an inbounds under the basket that were huge and then we had just enough free throws down the stretch.”

Griffin paced the Lady Leafs with 12 points, hitting four shots from the field and four free throws.

Rice chipped in eight with four field goals, while DeGrave added seven with three field goals and a free throw.

Wiese drained 5-of-7 from the foul line for her five points of the game, while Hudson also contributed five points on a field goal and three free throws. Maggie Bergeson went 3-of-4 from the line for her three points of the game.

“The seven seniors on this year’s team will be sorely missed,” said Brucher.?“I have a tremendous amount of admiration for them as basketball players and people. They are good students and people to be around. It was a joy coaching them. I thought they were tremendous in terms of leadership on and off the floor.”

The Lady Leafs end the season with an overall record of 24-7.