ANDOVER - Geneva on the Lake is a nice place to visit, but Geneva on the basketball court has been anything but a pretty sight for the Lakeview Bulldogs.
The Lady Eagles eliminated the Bulldogs from the tournament trail in each of the last three seasons. The losing streak reached four in the opener this season.
Thursday night was finally payback time for the Bulldogs, who clawed their way to a 46-38 win over the top-seeded Eagles in the semifinals of the Division II district tournament at Pymatuning Valley High School.
"This was a nice win," Bulldogs coach Adam Lewis said. "The girls bought into what we were talking about all week. They played the style we wanted them to, and they played it for 32 minutes. I'm very proud of their effort."
The Bulldogs (19-5) will play Chagrin Falls in the final Saturday at 2 p.m. Chagrin Falls advanced with a 45-42 overtime win over Mentor Lake Catholic in the other semifinal last night.
The Bulldogs and Eagles went at it in a down-in-the-dirt style, matching the aggressive, run-and-gun Bulldogs against the outside shooting prowess of the Eagles (21-3). It required a strong amount of mental toughness by Lakeview, which had to forget about the previous losses to Geneva.
"I listened to stuff before the game and I thought they knew we're the underdogs," said Lakeview junior Alli Pavlik, who scored 20 points. "They think that they're going to beat us. Last week we played Perry and were horrible. They saw us play like that and they thought they had us in the bag.
"I love it when people underestimate us because we get to come out and shock them."
The Bulldogs' man-to-man defense was solid throughout, particularly the play of senior Lizzy Konitsney, who had eight points and 11 rebounds. All eight of Konitsney's points came in the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs scored 21 points (four short of their production in the first three periods combined).
"I just went out and put my heart out there," Konitsney said. "If it was my last chance I was going to go out giving it my all."
The Eagles discovered how difficult it can be trying to press the Bulldogs, who have good ballhandlers in Pavlik, her sister Abby and Rebecca Mansell. Lakeview broke the press several times in the late stages of the third quarter and in the fourth when its scoring output increased.
The more the tempo of play picked up, the more it played into the hands of the Bulldogs.
"I think that up-and-down pace messed up their offense a bit," Lewis said. "We wanted to extend them because they're very disciplined in the halfcourt setting. I don't think the staff has ever prepared for a game as much as for tonight. We felt our best bet was to make it a full-court game for 32 minutes."
The Eagles led 8-4 after the first quarter. A 14-1 run starting with the final basket of the first period sparked the Bulldogs to a 19-16 halftime lead. Alli had nine points during the stretch.
Becky Depp scored 20 points for Geneva. Natalie Thomas had 12.
The Bulldogs will be making their first district final appearance in 14 seasons. The first thing they'll need to do is put last night's win behind them as soon as they step on the court for practice today.
"Today was the hardest we've played in awhile," Alli said. "If we play like that for four quarters we should be fine."
"We have to stay focused," Konitsney said.