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Geneva basketball coach Phil Ralston admittedly entered Friday night's game against Batavia with a great deal of concern.
He departed the Batavia gym with a great deal of optimism toward the future after his team's 68-47 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory.
"We came into this game really worried," said Ralston. "You have these kids coming off a state (football) championship. They're on that high and they didn't play poorly without some of these football guys last week."
Leading 26-20 at halftime, the Vikings (5-1, 1-0) seized control with near flawless execution at both ends of the floor in the third quarter.
While outscoring the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1) 22-7 in the third period, the Vikings pounded the ball inside with several over-the-top passes that led to easy layups and consistently crashed the boards.
Junior guard/forward Nate Navigato scored 4 of his 6 third-quarter points on offensive rebound putbacks following missed Viking free throws.
"I don't want to say I guess but sometimes I go shoulder to shoulder and if it (ball) bounces out, I throw my left hand out and if it's there, it's there," said Navigato, who scored a game-high 20 points to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
"That's something our team does well," Navigato said of his team's ability to look over the top to find the open man. "We notice mismatches and we're great passers."
Senior guards Chris Parrilli (18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists) and Cam Cook (11 points, 3 steals) also came up with some big plays during the third-quarter surge.
Parrilli scored 5 points over the final 2 Ĺ minutes while Cook capped the quarter by hitting a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer.
"Chris (Parrilli) did a great job of not forcing shots and playing within his game," said Ralston. "And this might have been Cam's best game that he's had for us. We've been looking for him to have this kind of control at the point (guard position) because he's capable of that."
Geneva, which shot 57 percent from the floor, made 67 percent of its field-goal attempts (10-of-15) in the third quarter.
"I think we shot for a very high percentage," said Ralston. "That goes back to not forcing shots. I thought our kids ran our sets unbelievably well tonight."
Ralston also saved high praise for his reserves.
"Probably the biggest MVP for us was our White team -- the guys at the end of the bench," said Ralston, whose team faces Champaign Centennial tonight at the State Farm Center in Champaign. "We probably were as prepared as we've ever been for a game by drilling, drilling, drilling what Batavia runs."
The Vikings' starters were equally as effective, outscoring the Bulldogs' starting quintet by a 20-2 margin in the third quarter.
"We ran our sets really well," said Parrilli. "It was a good team win. We haven't been known to push the ball as much but we wanted to take advantage of those turnovers. We definitely won't shy away from the fast break."
Sophomore Loudon Volbrecht also reached double figures for the Vikings with 10 points.
Batavia, which was outrebounded 32-21, was paced by junior Chasen Peez with 13 points -- all coming in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
"Geneva played really well," said Batavia coach Jim Nazos, whose squad visits Quincy tonight. "We're not where we want to be right now.
"We're nowhere near where we want to be defensively," added Nazos. "We can't give up the basket like we did. We can't give up the second shots like we did, and we can't turn the ball over like we did. Geneva took advantage of every single one of those things.
"We're just going to have to sweat, strain and work through it a little bit."
Danny Pieczynski added 9 points for the Bulldogs.