2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 11/30/2013 11:39 PM

Ralston wins 200th, Geneva takes title

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By Dave Heun
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was fitting that on a night when Geneva basketball coach Phil Ralston won his 200th career game, his team defended its West Chicago Wildcat Turkey Classic title in textbook fashion -- just the way Ralston would write it up.

It was a workmanlike effort for the Vikings who topped host West Chicago 55-43 in what turned out to be the championship contest Saturday night, as both clubs came into the final contest with 3-1 marks in the Thanksgiving tournament.

But Geneva (4-1) had four players in double figures, led by all-tournament selection Nate Navigato's 19 points, and never trailed nor where threatened in the game.

It had all of the typical Ralston schemes at work -- a patient offense in which Geneva used a lot of clock before taking an open shot, a solid zone or man defense designed to keep West Chicago's tournament MVP John Konchar under control, and taking care of the basketball, especially in the second half.

The formula resulted in Geneva rolling to a 27-13 halftime lead and never allowing West Chicago to get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way. The Vikings opened their biggest lead of the night at 34-15 early in the third quarter after a Cam Cook driving layup.

The title gave Geneva what players and coaches were calling the first time in school history the Vikings have won a Thanksgiving tournament two years in a row.

"It was nice, especially nice for me to win a championship with my 200th," Ralston said.

Ralston admitted that he was still stinging from his team's lone loss in the tournament to King, when the Vikings let a 13-point lead slip away in the game's final three minutes.

"But the boys responded positively," Ralston added. "West Chicago had a great game plan tonight, and our guys really executed."

West Chicago (3-2) made only two field goals in the first half, hitting only 2 of 18 shots.

Ultimately, that put the Wildcats up against it, West Chicago coach Bill Recchia said.

"We had a wonderful tournament and I am proud of our guys, but when you go 2 for 18 from the field in the first half, you aren't going to beat anybody," Recchia said.

Konchar led West Chicago with 15 points, but he made 10 of those from the free-throw line. Mikey Bibbs, who had averaged 20 points in the previous four tournament games, had only 12 points and made only one of four free throws.

Pace Temple followed Navigato with 14 points for Geneva, while Chris Parrilli and Cook each added 10 points.

The Vikings canned six 3-pointers in the game, with Navigato banging down three, Temple two and Parrilli adding one.

Geneva used the 3-pointer to initially pull away from the Wildcats. After taking a 10-7 lead after one quarter, Temple and Navigato opened the second quarter with treys. Temple scored 8 of his 14 points in the quarter, while West Chicago scored only six points, all on free throws.

West Chicago crept within 10 points at 37-27 late in the third quarter, but Parrilli made a steal and layup to close the quarter.

The Vikings sank 8 free throws down the stretch to keep West Chicago at bay.

"Coach Ralston told us this game was like a regional final and the whole tournament was good for us, to start the season with a championship," said Navigato, who had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his game-high 19-point total.

"It was the best thing we could have hoped for," Navigato said. "It was really awesome for our team to do this."

The Vikings controlled the boards by a 28-18 margin. Ethan Doell had 7 rebounds to lead West Chicago.

Geneva had 15 turnovers in the contest, but only two in the fourth quarter. West Chicago had only 11 turnovers in the game.

But the Wildcats' shooting was the Achilles' heel, as West Chicago made only 13 of 45 shots for 28 percent.

"If we could have made that one extra shot in a couple situations, it could have been a different outcome," Recchia said. "The boys didn't quit, and I am really proud of them."

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