At the rate things are going, Geneva's training staff may become the most valuable asset for the Vikings' basketball team by season's end.
Already without the services of junior guards Justin Durante (concussion) and Cam Cook (deep thigh bruise), Geneva coach Phil Ralston gave his bench players extended minutes Friday night against Streamwood (4-5, 1-3).
The results were favorable, as the Vikings (9-1, 3-1) received a 27-point effort from their reserves during a 59-33 Upstate Eight Conference River Division triumph in Geneva.
The victory came at a price, however, as Anthony Bragg and Kyle Brown went down with injuries during the second half.
"We had a kid with a broken nose with Bragg, and Kyle Brown, who has been kind of our reserve for Connor (Chapman), it looks like he has a high ankle sprain," said Vikings coach Phil Ralston. "We already had to raid our sophomore group and bring up a sophomore (Pace Temple) to kind of give us added depth, and then we lose two more kids."
A pair of starters, sophomore Nate Navigato and senior center Chapman, led the Vikings with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Despite giving up 5 inches to 6-10 Sabres center Zack Harris, Chapman won the battle inside with 11 points and 4 rebounds in 2-plus quarters of playing time. All of Chapman's points came in the first half, when the Vikings jumped out to a 30-11 advantage.
"I tried to get him in the air and draw some fouls," said Chapman, who hit a 15-foot jumper and converted on a 3-point play during a 9-0 second-quarter run that extended the Vikings' lead to 26-9. "They left the lanes open so I saw it and I tried to get layups."
Navigato did most of his damage in the third quarter when he scored 10 points during his team's 15-8 surge that helped open a commanding 45-19 lead heading into the final period.
"I didn't like how we started the game but once we settled down and started getting into our offense, we did do a lot of nice things," said Ralston.
Defensively, the Vikings held Streamwood to 27 percent shooting from the field (13-for-47), including a dismal 2-of-17 night from 3-point range.
"I thought we did more things better defensively," said Ralston. "That has been a concern of ours the past week. But I also think we caught Streamwood on a little bit of an off-night. I know they're much better than they reflected."
Reserves Cole Seger and Kyle Strong scored 8 points apiece for the Sabres, who received just 9 points combined from their starters.
"We had some good looks but we didn't make shots," said Sabres coach Tim Jones. "I was disappointed a little in (us) not rebounding and they beat us up physically.
"We're either really, really good or we're really, really not so good," added Jones. "There's no middle ground for us."
Junior forward Jason D'Amico paced the Vikings' bench with 9 points and 3 boards.
"I'm hoping that kind of wakes him up a little bit," said Ralston. "We've known that he's had some ability. Hopefully, this will help give him a little bit of confidence and maybe push himself a little harder in practice and games."
Following the deadly Connecticut elementary school shooting incident earlier in the day, Ralston attempted to put things in perspective after the game.
"It's great that we win tonight but when you hear about stuff like that, it brings things back to reality," said Ralston. "I've got little kids in elementary school. The whole afternoon I was worrying about my kids and I certainly wasn't thinking about the game today."