Posted Online: Jan. 04, 2013, 10:34 pm

Girls carry tourney momentum into new year

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By Dan Tomlin,

LASALLE -- A tougher Geneseo girls basketball team took the court Friday night.

Coming off a State Farm Classic showing in which they went 2-2 against some of the state's best teams, the Maple Leafs showed a confidence not yet seen this season in dropping LaSalle-Peru 48-36 in Northern Illinois Big 12 West play.

The win moves the Leafs (8-10, 2-2 NIB-12W) up a wrung in the conference standings and they will host basement-dwelling Streator (0-4 NIB-12W) next Friday.

The Leafs won with balanced scoring as four of the starting five scored 10 points. All of Geneseo's scoring came from those five.

More than just the scoring, though, Geneseo dominated on defense, forcing the Lady Cavs into 23 turnovers. At halftime, LP had 14 turnovers and just 10 points.

Molly DeBrock was on the stealing end of five Cavs passes, while Emily Ford was a nightmare for LP, forcing several of those turnovers.

Ford was guarding senior star Brittany Zawacki and held her to a dozen points on 3-of-7 shooting.

"Emily kept Zawacki locked down and she's an awfully good shooter," Geneseo coach Scott Hardison said. "The girls are learning to keep a lead and keep pushing."

It appears they're learning how to win, too, getting "Ws" in three of their last five games.

"Coming off the tournament, we have been used to playing state-ranked teams and at that level," Ford said. "If we can keep up the same intensity we needed to play with them we'll be better."

Ford and DeBrock each scored 10, as did Anna Wise and Jamie DeFauw. Darci Dietrich added eight in the win.

"Winning can be contagious and it starts with defensive pressure," Hardison said. "I could see the spark in the girls' eyes. They're starting to figure it out."

Geneseo held LP to just 25-percent shooting as the Cavs made just two baskets in the first half while the Leafs built what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

"Our strong suit is defense," Ford said. "All of our momentum starts with our defense."

Geneseo led by 13 at the half and the game was never in jeopardy. LP got only as close as eight points, but was held scoreless in the final 3:10 as the lead got back to double digits.