Genoa's girls’ basketball team has a pivotal Suburban Lakes League girls’ basketball game on Saturday, against preseason league favorite Lake.
Both teams are undefeated, and the visiting Flyers have a chance to go a leg up on the defending SLL champions.
Besides playing that game at home, fifth-year coach Tom Kontak and the Comets have one thing working in their favor. Genoa (10-0, 6-0) has shown a unique ability to bounce back when it gets down.
"This group has shown a lot of grit and fight and competitive nature," Kontak said. "When you sustain a 10-game streak with the nice schedule we've had, that says something about the kids."
Genoa was down by 11 points in the fourth quarter at Otsego and came back to win. The Comets trailed Toledo Christian by 10 points in the third quarter over the Christmas holiday and won by 13.
"Any good competitive team, what you are about shows when you're backed into a corner," Kontak said. "When you're behind on the road and it gets stressful, what you're made of comes out. This group has shown a lot of resiliency in some tough situations."
Seniors Simone Eli, a 5-9 point guard, and Courtney Mowery, a 5-10 guard, have been the glue that's held the Comets together. They are the team's only seniors and the lone returning players from last year's 20-4 (13-1 SLL) team.
Eli leads Genoa with a 22.2-point scoring average and leads in assists with 4.2 per game.
"Obviously you look at Simone and her stats, she is clearly our go-to player," Kontak said. "Courtney Mowery and she have done a great job in leadership, both on the floor and off the court."
Mowery, a two-year letter winner, is averaging 8.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.
"Courtney is our lock-down defender," Kontak said. "She's just tall and athletic. She gets her hands on a lot of basketballs with deflections and what I call tip rebounds. She's one of the better athletes we've had and she runs the floor."
Genoa does not have any juniors in its basketball program, which consists of 18 players. There are two seniors, 11 sophomores and five freshmen.
"I think it says a lot about Simone and Courtney and their leadership with young kids and their development," Kontak said. "You don't play the schedule we play with the competitive mindset of the program without good players and tough players. It's a fun group to be around."
Eli said the sophomores always display a lot of energy, and they love to play.
"We all blend in really well together," she said. "We just have the tream chemistry that's going to help us strive to win."
Sophomore Jessica Feller, a 5-10 post, is averaging 11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. Sophomore guard Julie Swartzmiller averages 6.7 points, while 5-10 sophomore Bailee Adams is averaging 5.3 points and 4.9 rebounds and 5-10 sophomore Alyssa Meiss is averaging 5.1 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Sophomore Rachel Johnson also was contributing but has missed three games with a possible season-ending knee injury.
The Comets are already halfway to last season's win total, which may surprise some. Genoa was picked by the coaches to finish third behind Lake and Gibsonburg in the SLL race.
"I put very little into preseason polls, whether we're first or in the middle of the pack," Kontak said. "This group has done what we try to do - represent our school and our team as best we can and have super lofty goals and continue to work hard every day. I'm not interested in a lot of moral victories."