Unless you are a circus performer, it is never a good idea to put one's head into the mouth of a lion.
A similar rule applies with putting the basketball on the floor when you're playing the Lions of Peoria Central.
Plagued by turnovers, Geneva (6-5) fell behind early and could never recover, dropping a 55-30 decision to state-ranked Peoria Central (8-1) on the second day of the 46th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament.
With the score tied at 4-4 midway through the first quarter, the Lions went on a 12-0 run fueled by their relentless full-court pressure.
Senior 6-7 forward Trey Kellum, who finished with a game-high 15 points, put on an early human highlight reel with a 2-handed jam and 1-hand throw-down on back-to-back possessions, as the Lions grabbed a 16-6 first-quarter lead.
"Tip-off and we're down by 10,'" said Geneva senior Ben Rogers. "It was like, 'what just happened?' By the time we kind of figured out what was going on, it was a little bit too late."
The second quarter began on a positive note for the Vikings, as 5-10 senior guard Ryan Willing blocked a shot taken by 6-5, 277-pound power forward Josh Augusta.
Peoria Central then elected to hold the ball in an attempt to get Geneva out of its zone defense but the plan backfired.
The Vikings reeled off 5 straight points, highlighted by Willing's steal and assist on Mark Becker's layup, to finish the opening half trailing 21-11.
"I thought defensively we did a pretty good job on them given that we were out-sized by them at every position," said Geneva coach Phil Ralston. "We also frustrated them.
"It was our offense," added the coach. "We weren't very crisp. We didn't penalize them for their over-aggressiveness, and we didn't look for our shots very well. Part of that is their pressure. I'm not sure we'll see another team that will put pressure on us like that."
Much of the Lions' first-half offense was created at the defensive end, as they forced 16 Viking turnovers.
"That's where they got all their scoring," said Ralston. "It was our turnovers that created points for them. That was the difference in the first half."
Peoria Central upped its lead to 17 at 34-17 on a 3-pointer by 6-6 forward Shamar Hill (10 points) with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
John Swiderski's 3-pointer gave the Vikings some momentum to close out the quarter, and Brendan Leahy converted off a perfect pass from Becker to pull Geneva within 38-26 in the opening minute of the final period.
But Hill buried another 3-pointer from the corner to ignite a 15-2 Peoria surge that effectively ended any hope for the Vikings, who had their 3-game winning streak snapped.
Jerrell White had 11 points and 7 steals, and 6-10 senior center Kevin Jordan added 9 points and 7 rebounds for the Lions.
Becker and Leahy each had 6 points for the Vikings.
"There's definitely a wow factor," Rogers said of facing Peoria Central. "We haven't played a team like that all year. That's only going to help us down the stretch."
"I was disappointed with how we took care of the ball," Ralston said of his team's 26 turnovers. "I think we're capable of being better than that."
Geneva will face Pleasure Ridge (Ky.) in today's third round of the tournament.