OK Nate Navigato, what is in store for your second week of high school basketball?
Navigato put quite the exclamation point on his first week on Saturday, scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing 9 rebounds to lead Geneva to a 55-44 victory over Addison Trail and complete a 5-0 record at the first Wildcat Turkey Classic at West Chicago.
Navigato earned tournament MVP honors. He scored 11 of his points in the final 4 minutes, 14 seconds after the Blazers (1-4) had cut Geneva's lead to 40-36.
Navigato made all 6 of his free throws in that span and also swished a sweet turnaround 10-foot fadeaway from the left baseline as the Vikings (5-0) pulled away.
"It looked like he hit another gear where he wanted the ball in his hands," Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. "Good players want the ball and want to do that."
The 6-foot-6 Navigato was the leading scorer on Geneva's sophomore team last year as a freshman.
He opened the week with 14 points and an 8-foot shot with a second remaining to beat Marmion. He scored 20 points against West Chicago, 21 against Lake Zurich and 25 vs. Addison Trail.
"We knew he could be good," Ralston said. "Beyond the scoring he's also a kid that looks for the assists, he's been our leading rebounder, he doesn't turn the ball over very often, hasn't forced shots, he's been taking them when they are good looks rather than thinking it's his time to shoot all the time. He's got the innate qualities you see in those really good players."
Navigato also has been extremely efficient, needing just 9 field goal attempts to score his 25 Saturday a day after he hit 8 of 11 from the field against Lake Zurich.
"I've been very impressed with him, he's got a nice all-around game." Addison Trail coach Brendan Lyons said. "For a sophomore he has poise, composure to take big shots, to make big shots. He's tough to defend when he can shoot the 3, post up, drive, do a lot. Scary thing is he's a sophomore."
Colleges already are taking notice. Ralston said UIC, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are among the schools showing interest, while for his part Navigato said he's noticed one difference about his first week of varsity basketball.
"I think things are going just the way I thought," Navigato said. "But it's a whole different thing from last year, it's much more physical, at the end of the game you are just dead."
Addison Trail had an all-tournament player of its own, junior guard James Pupillo, a third-year varsity player. Pupillo scored 13 of his team-high 21 points in the first half as the Blazers trailed 16-13 after one quarter and 20-13 at halftime.
Geneva hurt itself missing 7 of 8 free throws at one point.
"I think we could have defended a little better," Ralston said. "We have to do a better job on players like that to be able to contain them. He hit tough shots left and right. They brought their 'A' game."
Jordan Garcia drained a corner 3 to bring the Blazers within 36-32 early in the fourth quarter and Taylor White's bucket kept the pressure on Geneva leaving Addison Trail down 40-36. But the Vikings outscored the Blazers 15-8 to end the game, 11 of them from Navigato.
"We knew they were hot, and we were coming in the exact opposite trying to figure out who we were," Lyons said. "We didn't complicate things defensively, we knew Navigato was a very good player for them, but with the way they run their stuff you have to be on your toes 24-7."
Geneva senior Connor Chapman added 9 points and 6 rebounds and Justin Durante came off the bench with 7 points.
"This is good but this can't be the highlight of our season," Ralston said. "It's great we started out 5-0, it's great the kids have some nice wins under their belt, but we can't think this is the best of our season. This has to be a springboard for our season."
Garcia scored 7 points for the Blazers, who were outrebounded 31-25 and outscored from the free-throw line 21-8 but held Geneva -- who hit 69 percent from the field Friday -- to 15-of-37 shooting.
"Five games gives us an opportunity to look back and say who are we and what can we do better," Lyons said. "He's (Pupillo) got a lot of basketball talent. He can do some nice things offensively. We've talked a lot about building around what we have when the emphasis is on him and some games we have and some games we haven't."