2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/4/2014 9:50 PM

Navigato sinks Kaneland at United Center

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was as if Nate Navigato and Tyler Carlson were playing a game of H-O-R-S-E Saturday afternoon at the United Center.

But the Geneva junior had the final say in the Vikings' 54-51 victory over Kaneland on the Bulls' home court in Chicago.

Navigato, who scored 18 of his 20 points after the intermission, converted a 3-point play with one minute and 16 seconds to play to break a 48-48 tie.

After the teams exchanged split trips to the foul line, Geneva still maintained a 51-48 lead.

The nonconference boys basketball game appeared headed to overtime, though, when Carlson hit his fifth 3-pointer of the contest with 15 seconds remaining to forge yet another tie.

"I will never forget it," Carlson said of his right-wing jumper.

Navigato had no interest in an extra four-minute period, however.

The 6-foot-7 forward rose over a double team and drained the last of his team-high points with a 3-pointer with five seconds to play.

Kaneland (7-4) had its desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer miss badly.

It was the fifth straight win for Geneva (13-3), playing its first game since winning the East Aurora Holiday Tournament earlier in the week.

"Big-time players rise in big-time moments," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said of Navigato.

"What a great experience for our young men," Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. "What a great game. That was a big-time shot (by Navigato)."

"We have a play called 'clear,'" Navigato said of the game-winner, which he received from Cam Cook in rhythm. "I saw the time left (on the clock at the top of the backboard). I wanted it to be from the NBA (3-point) line."

The Navigato 3-pointer capped a frenetic second-half as the game had two dramatic reversals.

With players from each side sharing similar thoughts -- the privilege of playing at a professional venue and its stark physical differences from a typical high-school gymnasium -- Kaneland scored the first 7 points of the game.

Geneva, playing turnover-free basketball in the opening quarter, rebounded to take a 20-19 lead at the break.

But Carlson ended the final three quarters for Kaneland in similar fashion.

The guard hit his third 3-pointer of the opening half with three seconds to play.

Geneva then turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, forcing a series of steals and employing efficiency at the free-throw line to take the largest lead of the contest at 37-27.

But Kaneland scored the final 6 points of the quarter, including Carlson hitting a most improbable 3-pointer at the buzzer off an offensive rebound.

"It was a brick," Carlson said of the shot that hit the heel of the rim perfectly and nestled into the net.

John Pruett then took command for the Knights.

Pruett, who complemented the game-high 21 points Carlson authored with 16 points of his own, scored 10 in the final quarter.

Carlson then had the last of his five 3-pointers to hand the stage over to Navigato.

Pace Temple scored 11 points off the bench for Geneva.

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