It's our time and our trophy

Chris Steele
Lynsey Gradert, right, gets set on defense during Geneseo's win over Annawan at the Geneseo Temple's Tip-Off Classic.

The outcome was never in question, the celebration subdued, but the joy came through in the Lady Leafs’ voices when they talked about winning the Temple’s Tip-Off Classic with an undefeated start.

The Lady Leafs closed out the tournament with a 50-28 victory over Annawan in Geneseo on Nov. 22.

Renee Rumler was named to the All-Tournament team captain; and the Leafs’ Lindsey Francque, Maddie Mackey, Sydney Himmelman, and Lynsey Gradert were named to the All-Tournament team.

The win put a bow on a perfect 5-0 start for Geneseo, and Rumler saw the Lady Leafs’ depth shine during their winning streak.

“Anyone could have been named (captain),” Rumler said. “The whole team played great. We haven’t even reached our potential yet, but, this is an awesome start and we are going to keep moving forward from it.”

It’s the first time since the 2010-2011 season Geneseo captured the tournament crown, and the first time the Lady Leafs have started the season 5-0 under coach Scott Hardison.

While this years’ seniors were a part of the Leafs 2013-2014 regional championship team, this is the first title in which this group was the catalyst for the championship.

Making a win on Geneseo’s home floor extra special for the players, their parents and their fans.

“A lot of these people have been coming and watching us since we were in third grade,” Gradert said. “It means a lot to make it up to them, and show them this is our year and our time to shine.”

During the 2010-2011 season, the Leafs started the season with a 6-0 winning streak under then-coach Steve Brucher.

Geneseo’s streak was ended with a 46-29 defeat in the conference opener against Sterling.

In the final game of the 2016 Temple’s Tip-Off Classic, Geneseo struggled in the first half to make adjustments against Annawan on both sides of the ball.

In the second quarter, Lindsey Francque and Sydney Himmelman started to assert their dominance on the inside.

The duo combined to scored eight points, grab three offensive boards along with two defensive rebounds.

With 3:30 left in the second quarter, Rumler made a nice steal and score to give Geneseo a 21-14 advantage.

However, some foul trouble and turnovers allowed Annawan creep back into the game.

With Geneseo leading 25-21 at halftime, the Lady Leafs’ Gradert came out inspired in the third quarter.

Gradert drained a 3-pointer to give Geneseo a 32–24 lead with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Gradert dished an assist to Himmelman for a 24-24 lead, and Gradert made a pair of free throws on the next two offensive possessions.

Geneseo’s deep bench kept the Annawan offense ice cold in the second half, outscoring Annawan 25-7 in the second half.

With post play helping keep the Leafs in the game in the first half, shooting and guard play helped Geneseo pull away in the second half.

Coach Hardison thinks Geneseo’s offense will be firing on all cylinders when the Leafs can mesh the two together.

“I don’t think we are a post- or guard-dominated team,” Hardison said. “I think we have both. We just need to react to what (opponents) are doing defensively and take advantage of it.”