Nate Navigato will long remember his first varsity basketball game.
The Geneva sophomore, making his debut at the Wildcat Turkey Classic boys basketball tournament in West Chicago, hit an eight-foot right-baseline jumper with a second remaining to give the Vikings a 44-42 victory over Marmion in the schools season opener Monday evening.
(Offensive) patience turned it around for us (in the fourth quarter), said Navigato, the only player for either team in double figures with 14 points. (On the winning field goal) I was supposed to be in the 4-spot (power forward). We went into cutters (a designed offensive set). I was the first option.
In an opening game that featured many different elements, Geneva, which overcame a 5-point fourth-quarter deficit when Marmion opened the last eight minutes on a 10-0 run to reverse its equally large hole, prevailed as its prized underclassman scored the final 6 points of the night.
It was one of those grinder kind of games, said Geneva coach Phil Ralson, whose team faces traditional Public League power King in second-round action tonight while Marmion draws Addison Trail. (The Navigato winner) was a set we ran three times, and it didnt work once. Fortunately, the fourth time it did.
It was not exactly the most inspiring starts for Geneva (1-0).
Coming out colder than leftover pizza, Geneva fell behind early as Marmion (0-1) doubled up the Vikings in the first quarter behind the inside play of Jordan Glasgow and Matt Smith and the perimeter shooting of Mike Sheehan and Alex Theisen.
But the low-scoring nature continued in the second quarter as Geneva limited Marmion to single figures after the Cadets ended the first with a 16-8 lead.
Geneva was definitely looking for a spark after going into the break staring at a 23-19 deficit.
Enter Connor Chapman.
The bruising 6-5 power forward showcased a dexterity with his court awareness, three times finding teammates for routine scores.
None was as impressive as when he dove for a loose ball as it approached the baseline, knocking it to a streaking Kyle Brown for an uncontested layup.
That was something else, Ralston said of the total hustle play by Chapman who also scored 5 points in the quarter.
We were obviously struggling (offensively), Chapman said. I just tried to find my teammates when they were open.
But Marmion hit Geneva with a 10-point unanswered run to start the fourth, turning a 35-30 deficit into a 40-35 spread.
Marmion was still firmly in control as money time approached, only to have its potential victory deprived.
Two misses on consecutive possessions on front ends of bonus free throws the first with a 2-point lead and second in a 42-42 tie enabled Navigato to grab the early season headlines.
We would like to put that game on ice, Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. We missed those 2 free throws, but thats not what cost us the game.
Colin Kavanaugh, Glasgow and Sheehan scored 9 points apiece to lead Marmion.