Geneseo falls in regional semifinal against host Peoria Notre Dame

The Geneseo girls’ basketball team had their 13-game winning streak come to an end and was upset at the regional tournament by host Peoria Notre Dame.

Geneseo at Kaneland

The Knights charged past the Lady Leafs in the fourth quarter to earn a 61-50 victory on Feb. 10.

Geneseo (20-8, 9-3 NIB 12) fought to take a 42-41 lead to start the fourth quarter, but Kaneland

exploded on offense to outscore the Lady Leafs 20-8 in the final period of the regular season finale.

Geneseo’s Josie Brown scored a team-high 11 points, and Anna McAvoy finished with 10 points.

The Leafs’ Keeli Frerichs put in eight points, and Hannah Himmelman finished with six points.

Maddi Barickman scored seven points including a 3-pointer, and Tori Verbeck finished with four points.

Geneseo’s Heather Dietrich and Jane Thomas each scored two points.

Peoria Notre Dame Regional

Fortune favors the bold, and Peoria Notre Dame played fearless against the Lady Leafs on Feb. 13.

In a back-and-forth game, the host Irish defeated Geneseo 63-57 to advance to the regional championship game.

“You always want one more quarter, one more possession one more minute to do something a little bit different,” Geneseo Coach Scott Hardison said. “I always think that, and I would go to bat with this team every time.”

With PND having already won a 48-30 game in the first round, the Irish came out and upset the Lady Leafs by forcing Geneseo to commit 26 turnovers in the game while only turning the ball over 13 times.

After falling behind 35-30, Geneseo started to find their footing to end the third quarter.

Dietrich drove the lane for a layup, and Geneseo forced a turnover that led to a quick Frerichs basket in transition.

After a PND score, the Leafs’ Verbeck answered with a drive to the hoop for a layup and Kaitlyn Webster drained a jumper on the next possession to give Geneseo a 38-37 lead.

PND fought back to retake the lead 44-42, however, Thomas buried a 3-pointer to push Geneseo back in front with 1:15 remaining.

Himmelman got the ball down low with time running out in the third and was fouled as time expired.

Himmelman made a pair of clutch free-throws to give Geneseo a 47-44 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Himmelman finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Leafs pushed the lead to 50-46, but miscues and missed free throws plagued the final period for Geneseo allowing PND to retake the lead 53-52 with 2:25 remaining.

The Irish’s Kaitlyn Osmulski hit a jumper to expand the lead to 55-52 with less then two minutes remaining to send Geneseo into panic mode.

PND’s Osmulski finished the game with 30 points including 11 points in the fourth quarter.

With Geneseo continuing to try to raise expectations, a sour taste in their mouths at the end of this season will be a motivating factor for returning players.

“Every year at the end it hurts,” Hardison said. “You have to use this as your fire for spring, summer, fall and be ready to come next winter.”

Despite an unexpected end, Geneseo was able to win the NIB 12 West, go on a 13-game win streak and finish with a 20 win season for the first time since the 2012 season.

“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get to 20 wins,” said McAvoy, a senior. “We wanted to win the conference and get to 20 wins, and midway through the season, we didn’t know if we would get there. We got on that 13-game win streak, and we finally got there. It kind of told us that we actually able to do what we wanted to do.”

The Irish will host state-ranked Richwoods for the regional title at Peoria Notre Dame High School, on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.