Less than 24 hours after suffering one of its worst losses of the season, Geneva's boys basketball team earned one of its best victories Saturday night.
Chris Parrilli and Nate Navigato scored 18 points apiece to lead 4 players in double figures, as the Vikings (17-7) recorded a 69-62 nonconference triumph over St. Viator (16-7) in Geneva.
The win came on the heels of Friday night's 72-52 home loss to Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion Larkin.
"We had two games back-to-back against sectional quality opponents," said Vikings coach Phil Ralston of the weekend split. "Last night, we didn't take care of our business. We didn't run our offense very effectively and we didn't get back on defense.
"Tonight, our guys did a complete turnaround," added Ralston. "We looked like a completely different team."
Utilizing a 2-3 zone defense, the Vikings limited the Lions to 5-of-23 shooting in the first half while building a 32-20 lead at the intermission.
Connor Chapman (12 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) and Cam Cook (11 points) combined for 17 first-half points, as the Vikings shot 55 percent (10 for 18) from the field.
"We were moving the ball great, finding the open people and not forcing shots," said Parrilli, who connected on 5 of his 6 field-goal attempts.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Navigato, who added a game-high 11 rebounds, upped the Vikings' lead to as many as 15 at 38-23 midway through the third quarter.
After the Lions whittled the deficit to 44-35 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Patrick Martin (9 points), Parrilli's second 3-point play of the contest and a layup from Navigato helped the Vikings extend their lead to 52-38 with 6:27 remaining.
St. Viator, led by Ore Arogundade (14 points) and Mark Falotico (12 points), fought back to within 54-49 on Falotico's 3-point play with 3:04 left.
The Lions drew as close as 4 twice late -- the last time coming after Patrick McNamara (10 points) drained a 3-pointer from the deep corner with 53 seconds remaining.
But the Vikings salted the game away with excellent free-throw shooting down the stretch, as Navigato and Parrilli were a combined 6-for-6 over the final 39 seconds.
As a team, Geneva shot 89 percent from the foul line, making 25 of 28 attempts.
"They closed out the game really well," said Ralston. "That's what you have to do. We struggled on picking up the right guys and gave up a couple long rebounds late. Fortunately, we were able to be disciplined enough in our offense that we created a buffer and put ourselves in a position to where we were going to earn the win at the line."
"If you knock down free throws, it's a lot easier to sustain a lead and win the game," said Parrilli, who made 9 of 10 free throws. "We emphasize that a lot in practice. We're always shooting free throws -- multiple times a day."
Ralston understood the significance of the victory against a St. Viator team that had edged state-ranked Benet Academy 55-54 eight days earlier.
"To be able to beat a team as good as St. Viator tells us that we're on the right path to where we want to finish our season," said the coach. "We needed a win like this. Last year, they kind of embarrassed us in their gym."
"It was a great bounce-back win from last night," said Parrilli. "We've got to stay consistent with it now and keep it going for the rest of the year."
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