Lady Leafs win regional title in OT

Amy Carton
Regional Champs are front row: equipment manager/video technician Jesse Dobbels. Second row, from left: manager Sarah Dellett, Tarah Fisher, Becca Rapps, Rori Westerlund, Molly DeBrock, Tasha Olson, Kaylie Piekos and Maddie Mackey. Back row, from left: Anna Wise, Jamie DeFauw, Audrey Anderson, Bailey Conard, Darci Dietrich, Emily VandeWiele, Ashley Kempher, Sydney Himmelman and Renee Rumler.

The Geneseo girls’ basketball team saw its season come to end this past week, but only after the Lady Leafs claimed the regional crown.

Geneseo vs. Washington

The Lady Leafs knew they had a tough task on their hands when they squared off against the No. 5th ranked team in the state in Washington Feb. 24 at the IVC Sectional.

In the end, Geneseo fell short of the upset, 45-34 to Washington.

“No doubt, the effort was put in and that is what we want,” said head coach Scott Hardison. “We wanted to come out and execute our game plan. We got in a hole in the beginning and battled back, but never could quite get over the hump.”

Washington grabbed the early 14-8 lead in the first quarter, and went up 26-17 at the half. Washington scored 12 to Geneseo’s nine in the second quarter.

Both squads put up nine points in the third to keep the game at a nine-point game, 35-26. Washington was able to pull away in the fourth quarter as the squad outscored Geneseo, 10-8 for the win.

“I think we played our best three games the last three of the season and if you can say that you can be satisfied,” said Hardison. “Washington is No. 5 for a reason, and their stud player had an answer for us every time. I definitely think we represented our school and program well with our effort last night.”

Molly DeBrock led the way for the Lady Leafs with 13 points as she knocked down a shot from beyond the arc and four field goals.

Jamie DeFauw added nine points as she hit three shots from the field and three free throws; while Kaylie Piekos and Darci Dietrich scored four points apiece — Piekos went 4-for-5 from the line and Dietrich hit a field goal and two free throws.

Anna Wise and Audrey Anderson finished the night with two points each, both on a field goal.

Geneseo vs. Galesburg

After trailing for most of the regional title game, the Lady Leafs made the baskets when it counted to capture a 34-30 victory in overtime over Galesburg Feb. 21.

“We played a ton of overtime games this year, and I really think we were able to lean back on those experiences, and not panic,” said Hardison. “We told the girls (before overtime) we played an OT game with Galesburg earlier this year and won, so we needed to lean on that and play with the energy we played with in the fourth quarter and things would come out the way we wanted them to.”

The Streaks jumped out ahead 15-7 in the first quarter, but the Lady Leafs cut Galesburg’s lead to two at the half, 17-15. Geneseo scored eight in the second quarter and held Galesburg to two.

Galesburg continued to hold on to its advantage in the third quarter, 26-23 as the Streaks scored nine points and Geneseo had eight. The Lady Leafs tied the game up at 29-29 at the end of regulation after they outscored the Streaks, 6-3 in the fourth.

In OT, Geneseo put up five points and held Galesburg to one point to claim the regional championship.

Leading the Geneseo offense was DeBrock with 14 points, draining a shot from beyond the arc, four field goals and three free throws.

DeFauw also posted double figures for the Lady Leafs with 10 as she knocked down four shots from the field and two free throws.

Wise chipped in seven points as she hit two field goals and three free throws; while Dietrich finished with two points on a field goal, and Rori Westerlund went 1-for-2 from the line for her lone point.

“Anna was phenomenal in the fourth quarter,” said Hardison. “Her free-throw shooting, defensive ability and athletic prowess came through in the fourth quarter.”

Geneseo vs. Dunlap

With aggressive defense, and clutch free throws at the end, the Lady Leafs survived a close one in regional semifinal action when they escaped with a 42-37 victory Feb. 19 over Dunlap in Geneseo.

“We knew what Dunlap’s bigs could do and our bigs could handle them,” said Hardison. “We knew we would be OK if we executed our game plan. The girls did very well against a tough Dunlap team.”

Geneseo took the early 10-8 lead in the first quarter, and carried the 21-18 advantage into the half. Geneseo scored 11 points in the second quarter, and Dunlap put up 10.

Dunlap gained control of the lead in the third quarter, 33-29 as the Eagles outscored the Lady Leafs, 15-8. The Lady Leafs sealed the victory down the stretch with 13 points in the fourth; while the defense held Dunlap to only four for the win.

Piekos paced the Lady Leafs with 12 points as she drained three shots from beyond the arc and two field goals.

DeBrock chipped in nine points as she sank 7-of-8 from the line in the fourth quarter, and field goal; while Dietrich and DeFauw each knocked down three shots from the field for six points apiece.

Westerlund and Wise finished the night with four points, both hit two field goals.

“It has really been a team effort for the last week and a half in the postseason,” said Hardison. “That is why we were able to be successful.”

The Lady Leafs end their season at 17-14 overall and 6-4 in the NIB 12.

“If you would have told me we would have been playing in the sectional game against the No. 5 team in the state I would have taken that,” said Hardison. “I told the girls (the loss) is going to hurt just because they cared so much and put so much in. We grew and met our expectations and had a successful season, and they will see that when the hurt wears off.”