DUNLAP -- Geneseo girls' basketball coach Scott Hardison knew what had to be done for his Lady Leafs to have a chance in their Class 3A regional semifinal against top-seeded Galesburg.|
Stop Western Big 6 Conference leading scorer Jessica Lieber.
Saddled with that assignment -- Leafs senior Emily Ford.
"We jokingly told Emily that she should skip school, drive to Galesburg and start guarding her in class," said Hardison, emphasizing to the extreme the necessity of keeping the Silver Streaks' leader in check.
Four quarters of being hounded by Ford must have seemed like an entire day. With the defense of the senior guard being a season best, the No. 4-seeded Leafs stunned the top-seeded Silver Streaks 55-49 in the night's first game.
And the line for Lieber in the final game of her exceptionally stellar Silver Streak career -- 4-of-28 shooting for 10 points, less than half of her season average.
And though Ford drew the accolades from Hardison for that stat line, his credit for the stunner was spread throughout the locker room.
"Outside of that locker room, no one believed we could do this," Hardison said of defeating the No. 3 team of the Western Big 6 which came in with an 18-12 record. "But in there, in that locker room, everyone believed it and everyone, all 15 girls, contributed to it.
"Jamie DeFauw was a beast, and you can write that down. Her weakness all year had been defending the 3 she came out and took that to heart." DeFauw, the Leafs' center, finished with five blocks, practically all of them near or beyond the arc.
"Molly DeBrock was the 10th man on the freshman team and then was the starting point guard for the sophomore team. She really came through tonight," finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds."
DeFauw echoed how much the upset was a team effort. "We just had to keep faith in ourselves," said the Leafs' post presence, who topped the scoring chart with 17 points. "We needed to keep our composure.
"We've been preparing ourselves in our minds for this game."
With an 11-0 run late in the second quarter, the Leafs were able to go into halftime with a 26-25 lead. In fact, the first half served notice that the Leafs meant business, with Galesburg shooting just 10-of-35 from the floor and 4-of-20 beyond the arc through two quarters.
Galesburg finished with just a 25-percent clip (18-of-71) on field goals and 15 percent (6-of-39) on 3s.
"We tried to keep them off the 3-point line and then back off so that they couldn't drive," said Ford. As for defending Lieber, she added, "I just wanted to keep in front of her. But really, each person on this team had a role."
The Leafs now will continue their underdog role into the regional championship game, facing No. 2 seed Alleman (16-14) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday back at the Dunlap gym.