By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
When Geneva senior forward Emily O’Dell looks at the boxscores the morning after a game, she isn’t looking to see how many points or rebounds she had the night before. That is never an indicator of how well she played.
O’Dell, the Eagle who draws the toughest defensive assignment each night in Geneva’s man-to-man defense, will rest easy after the Eagles’ 49-37 Premier Athletic Conference victory over visiting Chardon on Wednesday night.
“It wasn’t me alone,” O’Dell said. “Lyndsey Armstrong went in there when I was out. (Lindsey Lyons) was our main focus tonight. She is one of their top scorers. We tried to stay on the help line and stay with her.
“We usually faceguard (the other team’s) best scorers. That’s our main focus, defense. I do like to play defense and having my purpose (with the team).”
O’Dell and Armstrong were able to neutralize the Hilltoppers’ top scorer, Lindsey Lyons, and Natalie Thomas all but eliminated Taylor Wawrowski, and the Eagles (6-0, 4-0) were able to hold the Rangers (4-1, 3-1) in check.
“Natalie spent most of her time on Wawrowski,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “She was a focal point. They also have (Kahrin) Spear and Lyons. They have three people who are threats and that’s tough to defend. Overall, we did a good job. Those three are going to get their points.”
Spear led the Hilltoppers with 13 points, Lyons netted 11 and Wawrowski just two.
“We ended up making a change and started faceguarding,” Barbo said. “We sensed that Lyons was tryign to take the game over. Emily and Lyndsey did a good job tracking her down and keeping her in front of them.”
Chardon was just 12 of 46 (26.1 percent) from the field.
“Geneva’s going to play tough, physical man-to-man defense,” Chardon coach Dave Munson said. “That’s what they did and they did it very well tonight.
“We didn’t (shoot well). You have to credit Geneva for that. I think their defense had something to do with that. We didn’t have a great shooting night.”
After battling to a 17-13 lead at the half, Geneva opened up a 37-24 lead over the next eight minutes behind the Sarah Depp-Becky Depp connection.
“The third quarter was a biug turning point for us,” Barbo said. “We executed the running game as well as can be expected.”
Sarah Depp tallied eight points in the third period, six on assists from sister Becky, in the quarter.
“My sister was giving me the ball,” Sarah Depp said. “She was making some amazing passes. I had layups, I just had to make them. I had to use the backboard.”
Once the Eagles had some distance, the Hilltoppers had a hard time making up up ground.
“They’re good with a lead,” Munson said. “They’ve got guards who can handle the ball. We fought hard the whole way, it was just too much to overcome.”
Thomas netted a double-double with 14 points — 12 in the first half — and 10 rebounds to pace the Eagles. She was also 6-6 from the free-throw line.
“The first half was a struggle for both teams,” Barbo said. “Look at the scores at the half. Any bonus buckets we can get, we’ll take. Natalie was aslo 100 percent from the free-throw line. That’s key for post players to be able to do.”
Lindsey Mayle added 13 points, nine on 3-pointers, for Geneva.
“She did do it quietly,” Barbo said. “She was scoreless in the first half. We tried to start the third quarter with a 3-pointer for her. She came up short, but I felt like that got her back in the groove again and she started finding openings. She took the shots with confidence instead of hesitating.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.