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Geneva handles Quincy
By Dave Heun | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/3/2013 12:55 AM

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Maybe it was inspiration from honoring the 1963 Geneva High School basketball team that reached the state quarterfinals.

Maybe it was inspiration from knowing they had to recover quickly from laying an egg the night before in losing to lowly Streamwood in an Upstate Eight River clash.

Maybe it was inspiration in knowing it would be a nice badge of honor to say you beat one of the state’s most storied basketball programs.

Whatever the reason, Geneva (16-6) locked down visiting Quincy defensively and made nearly every shot it took from the field and a boatload of free throws Saturday night to notch a 69-55 nonconference victory.

Sophomore forward Nate Navigato scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Vikings, making 6 of 8 field goal attempts and 11 of 12 free throws in the process.

The free-throw line proved to be a friendly place for Geneva as the Vikings sank 21 of 25 attempts, including an impressive 14-of-14 in the fourth quarter.

“We work on free throws every day in practice, 10 sets of two at a time,” Navigato said. “We’ve been shooting a higher percentage lately and that really helped us tonight.”

Other than one tie at 12-12, Geneva led the entire night. The Vikings led at halftime 29-20 and carried some momentum from what was arguably the game’s most exciting moment when Mike Trimble drove the lane and closed out the scoring with a thunderous slam dunk.

The Vikings scored 10 of the first 11 points in the second half, opening up a lead the Blue Devils never could overcome.

Cole Abbey and Martin Kvitle led Quincy (15-7) with 16 points each, while Mason Fairley added 15.

But the Blue Devils trailed 44-33 entering the final quarter, and the Vikings began their march to the free-throw line, with a few backdoor layups triggered by high-post passes from Connor Chapman adding the exclamation points.

“They trapped all over the place, but we have a bunch of people who can find openings and it worked for us,” Navigato said. “We could see over the top of them.”

Chapman especially took advantage of his 6-5 frame when slinging passes into the paint like fastballs from a pitcher’s mound. Chapman finished with 14 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

“This was probably the best overall game we’ve seen from Chapman in 2013,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “We are going to need more like that from him.”

The victory was especially pleasing for Ralston, considering the team was joining in on the school’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring the great 30-3 team from 1963, but also because the loss at Streamwood on Friday caused so much damage in the Upstate Eight River race.

“We really kind of put the players on notice last night after that game, saying we didn’t feel like we walked in prepared for that game, and shame on us for that,” Ralston said.

“It was nice to see how the boys responded today,” Ralston added. “With a month left in our season, this is not the time to let up on the gas pedal because we’ve had a great season so far, and we just didn’t want to see the team go south.”

And to right the ship against Quincy was not an easy task.

“That Quincy team is as good as any team we see on our schedule,” Ralston said.

Chris Parilli chipped in 14 points for Geneva, while also shadowing Quincy standout Kvitle all night as the Vikings played a box-and-one or diamond-and-one defense most of the night.

Quincy coach Sean Taylor didn’t have much to say as he dashed off to share the gory details of his team’s loss with a Quincy radio station.

“There is not a whole lot to say about this,” Taylor said. “They played better defense and executed better than we did, and we just didn’t execute our plays at all.”Geneva had no such trouble, making 23 of 31 shots for a sizzling 74 percent from the floor to go with the 84 percent mark from the free-throw line. With that kind of shooting, Quincy registered only 6 rebounds in the game, the same total Navigato had with his game-high 6 boards.

Quincy shot 47 percent at 18 of 38 from the floor, and also was solid at the line, making 17 of 24 for 70 percent.

The problem for the Blue Devils was falling behind 18 points midway through the third quarter at 39-21 and never being able to reel Geneva back in.