The Lady Leafs’ basketball team rediscovered its defensive identity with wins against Rochelle and Ottawa.

The Lady Leafs’ basketball team rediscovered its defensive identity with wins against Rochelle and Ottawa.

Rochelle at Geneseo

It took a half, but Geneseo found their footing on defense and earned a 78-47 victory over the Hubs at Geneseo High School on Jan. 10.

Having come up on the short end in five of their previous seven games, Geneseo played like a different team in the second half.

With Geneseo leading 39-33 at halftime, the Lady Leafs held Rochelle to just 14 points in the second half to earn the Northern Illinois Big 12 West Conference win.

On offense, Geneseo’s Hannah Himmelman took over the game scoring 16 points in the post.

A freshman, Kammie Ludwig was just as hard to stop on the offensive end scoring 18 points.

Josie Brown scored 10 points, and Abbi Barickman finished with nine points.

Maddi Barickman tallied seven points, and Taylor DeSplinter finished with six points.

Keeli Frerichs dropped in five points, and Lauren Pardoe added three points.

The Lady Leafs’ Eden McAvoy and Kaitlyn Webster each finished with two points.

Ottawa at Geneseo

The Lady Leafs came to the realization that a fist can do more damage than five fingers.

Playing defense as a unit, Geneseo earned a 45-28 victory over Ottawa on Senior Night at Geneseo High School on Jan. 15.

Geneseo struggled to play team defense facing an elite scorer when they faced Sycamore’s Kylie Feurerbach just a week ago.

Against Ottawa’s Angelique Cowan, the Lady Leafs’ defense held Cowan to just eight points.

“It’s not the person guarding her that shuts her down,” Geneseo Coach Scott Hardison said. “It’s the five girls on the floor together, and I think that’s the light that clicked on in our heads.”

Geneseo stepped up and managed to have a player duct tapped to Cowan the entire game.

The tipping point for the Geneseo defense was in the first two minutes of the second quarter.

Cowan worked off screens to try to get an open shot started trying to break down the Lady Leafs defenders off the dribble but found nothing leading to a Pirates timeout to regroup.

With Geneseo leading 27-14 at halftime, the Lady Leafs’ offense started clicking in the second half.

Geneseo went on a 10-0 run to close out the third quarter leading 40-20.

Brown led the senior night festivities scoring a game-high 14 points.

After banking home a 3-pointer early in the game, the Lady Leafs were feeding off of Brown’s success and kept getting her the ball.

“I think believing in each other is the biggest thing,” Brown said. “My teammates help me to be the best I can be. They encourage me when I get the ball to shoot, and it can fuel you and makes you feel good.”

After finding out they would be without Tori Verbeck (ACL) for the rest of the season, everyone has picked up a share of the void left behind.

Himmelman scored nine points, and Abbi Barickman had a bigger impact on the game than her five points and three rebounds show.

“We are getting back to the momentum we had at the beginning of the season, but we are such a different team,” Himmelman said. “We’ve grown so much already, and we have so much more growth left to make before the postseason.”

Ludwig made several strong moves to the basket and finished with six points, and

Webster grabbed six rebounds and finished with four points.