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Girls Basketball Determined to Defend State Title

Madison Campbell, Staff Writer

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After becoming state champions for the first time in the history of the program last season, the girls’ basketball team is back and ready to defend the title. However, this year’s team has a new look, and some new players as well.

The moment Geneva won the state title will be remembered for a long time, the achievement still not seeming real for some after eight months; but the time has come to begin to rebuild the team and work towards a second title after losing four seniors in May.

Students and staff alike are still marveling over Geneva’s win at the state final game at Redbird Arena this past March. Now, the Vikings are looking for a repeat of last season’s amazing ending. Lead by Coach Meadows once again, the girls are looking forward to starting up the season soon, but there is some nervousness in the air.

“I think we’re planning on getting that same success. Different look of a team, but I think that once we put it all together, it will be a good season,” Coach Meadows said, before adding sarcastically, “It’s not nerve-wracking at all.”

Despite the different look of the team, there are some familiar faces playing on the court this year, including some very vital players who helped the Vikings achieve all that they did last season. Bri Borkowicz, Anilise Bragg, Anna Burke, Brittany Caskey, Maddy Yelle, and Lexie Moore will all be back to play for their senior season. However, there won’t be a certain, key-asset returning to the court this year.

“We’re missing Grace Loberg and that’s clearly a huge difference. We have nine seniors though, which means we have nine kids returning from last year’s team, so we’re old and we’re new, and an experienced team.” Coach Meadows said.

Grace, who averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, helped lead the Vikings to triumph while playing on the varsity team for all four years of high school. The 6’3 center graduated in May, and is now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is playing volleyball.

Experienced is a great understatement to describe the team as a whole; last season, the girls finished with a 29-4 record last season following their win against the undefeated Edwardsville for the title. Prior to this season, the Vikings have appeared in six, consecutive regional titles and have won three sectional matches.

Of the ten players returning for the season, one of the most important is Margaret Whitley. The guard, who hit the game-winning basket to send the team to the state final, is once again expected to have another high-scoring year for her final season with Geneva. Last year, Whitley averaged nearly 15 points per game and had a total of 87 three-pointers in the 2016-17 season.

Other key players returning include Madison Mallory, the 6’2 forward/guard who played in 21 games last season, and Stephanie Hart, who averaged nine points per game and hit the game winning basket for the state title with five seconds remaining. Lindsay Blackmore will also be returning for her sophomore season, after making varsity as a freshman last year.

However, with tryouts now done, the practices are just beginning. “We practice every day except for Sundays. Two hours after school, Monday through Saturday.” Coach Meadows said. With all of these hours being put into practicing, the girls have been working hard to get ready for the season, using the motivation of last season’s end to work even harder.

This season will be Coach Meadows’ seventh, as she has been coaching the team since the 2011 season. She’s helped the team work up to the level they are at, and has coached the players to champions as well. She described the team with words of praise for her expectations of the upcoming season.

“I would say that this group is extremely athletic, since they’ve been playing together since fourth grade. I think people will see that we will create a lot of offense through our defense. They’re going to press, and be fast, and athletic, and get up and down the court.”

Make sure to wish the Lady Vikings good luck when their quest to defend the title begins on November 13th against Glenbard South! 

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Girls Basketball Determined to Defend State Title