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High school girls basketball: Geneva weathers early storm, defeats rival Madison, 54-45

Jan. 13—As a heavy snow hammered down outside Geneva High School on Jan. 13, the Eagles girls basketball team had a flurry of its own to withstand inside the gymnasium.

Staggered by a 22-point first quarter by the visiting Madison Blue Streaks, Geneva kept its composure and came back for a 54-45 win in a key CVC Lake Division game in a victory that avenges a 52-48 loss to the Blue Streaks back on Dec. 5.

Mpharrah Jackson had a career-high 20 points, Brooke Richmond added 17 and the Eagles improved to 11-2 overall and 5-2 in the CVC Lake.

"I always say 'on to the next play,' " said Geneva coach Emily Vosser. "There are going to be mistakes. There are going to be things we do wrong. That's something we try to keep as our culture — on to the next play."

Madison (11-2, 6-2) looked as if it was going to blow Geneva out to the shores of Lake Erie when the Blue Streaks knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a 22-7 lead. But methodically — and with the help of a stronger defensive effort, the Eagles slowly whittled away at the deficit.

Richmond put back a miss to cut it to 26-11 and then drained a 3 to make it 26-14 with 2:50 left in the half. And when Lexie Besco drove the length of the court off a turnover, Geneva only trailed, 28-16, at the break — a manageable 12-point deficit.

"We had to have heart and desire," Richmond said. "Coach got on us about heart and desire on defense. We didn't have that (at the start), but we came out with it."

Madison did a good job fending off Geneva for a good chunk of the third quarter. Minus Sydney Sorber (ankle) and fighting off foul trouble, the Blue Streaks had a 32-24 lead when Zoey Deligianis stole the ball and went in for a layup with 3:50 in the third. But momentum slipped fast after that.

Delaney Marrison made two free throws, Richmond hit a triple off a kickout pass from Jackson, and then Richmond swished another 3 for a 34-32 lead. Madison never led again.

"We were just flat in the second half," Madison coach Heather Reho said. "Defensively we were flat and complacent. You can't do that. I feel like (Geneva would) make a shot and we'd hang our heads, and it just spiraled."

Geneva stretched its lead out to double digits thanks in large part to Jackson, who made a living off driving the right side of the lane and converting from short range. Her back-to-back buckets made it 42-35 early in the fourth. Even when Madison tried to rally with another steal and conversion by Deligianis, Jackson drove in for another hoop.

On top of that, Jackson made five free throws in the final 75 seconds to ice the game.

"I'm really proud of myself," soft-spoken Jackson said of her big day.

"Yeah, Moharrah stepped up big," Vosser said. "We had Tahkyah Myuers out — our second-leading scorer — and she rose to the occasion. She also played amazing defense. She gave us all her heart."

Deligianis led Madison with 16 points, while Alyssa Snider had 14 — nine of which came in the torrid first quarter. Claire Wakim was held to eight points.

"We want to push the ball," Reho said. "We knew we had to push the ball because they are taller than we are. We can run when we have numbers. I think in the first half we did a good job of ball movement. In the second half that kind of went away."

Aside from Jackson and Richmond, the Eagles got 11 from Delaney Marrison. Emily Buck had a game-high 11 rebounds.

Vosser said she didn't know how long it had been since Geneva had beaten Madison, but granted, "it's been a while" and "it's always good to beat your rival."

The win also provides some momentum going forward.

"We're just taking it day by day," Richmond said. Whoever is next we're going to prepare for them and keep being who we are."

THE SCORE

Geneva 54, Madison 45