Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck penned the phrase, "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray."
That can apply to basketball teams as well.
With the score tied at 53-all and 8.2 seconds remaining, Geneva boys basketball coach Phil Ralston designed an inbounds play during a timeout Tuesday night against Glenbard North.
Senior guard Chris Parrilli found Nate Navigato along the near baseline and the 6-7 junior forward was able to draw a foul in the act of shooting.
Navigato calmly canned both free throws with 6.2 seconds left to help lift the Vikings (15-4) to a hard-fought 55-53 nonconference victory over Glenbard North (12-4) in Geneva.
"The play wasn't run perfectly but it was run well enough to get us what we wanted," said Vikings coach Phil Ralston. "He (Navigato) didn't have quite the angle we wanted on the shot but part of that is because he left a little too early and didn't wait for his pick."
It might have been the lone blemish of the night for Navigato, who battled toe-to-toe much of the game with Glenbard North 6-5 senior forward Chip Flanigan (18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals) and finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-for-11 marksmanship from the field.
"Tonight, he played like he was a Division 1 basketball player against a very good defender," Ralston said of Navigato. "He (Flanigan) might be one of the best defenders he'll see this season -- long, athletic, strong and left-handed -- and Nate didn't back down from him one inch."
"He's very poised down low," Panthers coach Joe Larson said of Navigato. "When he catches the ball down low, he surveys the situation pretty well. Being 6-7, he can rise up and make midrange shots but he can also maneuver inside and finish. He had a great ballgame."
The Panthers' bid to force overtime failed when senior guard Justin Jackson's free-throw line jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.
"It was a very good look," said Larson. "All you can ask for in that situation is to get a good look. He (Jackson) was at the free-throw line. He makes that (shot) probably eight times out of 10."
Jackson, the 6-1 senior Northwestern football recruit, finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
"That Glenbard North team is probably the best team we've played this entire season," said Ralston. "They've got it all -- multiple shooters, great athletes. We couldn't stop their kid (Flanigan) driving to the basket. He made us do some things different defensively I'll tell you that. We rotated guys on him and it wasn't working so we had to go with some zone gimmicks to try and slow him down."
Trailing 43-39 after 3 quarters, the Vikings received a huge lift from junior guard Pace Temple in the opening minutes of the final period.
Temple (9 points) converted a 3-point play to trim the deficit to 43-42 and made a layup a few moments later off a picture-perfect feed from Loudon Vollbrecht to give the Vikings a 44-43 lead with 6:36 remaining.
"That was a great dump-down pass," said Ralston.
Parrilli added 10 points for the Vikings.
"We were hoping this one would help give us some legitimacy within our sectional," said Ralston. "Glenbard North knocked off Hinsdale Central, which is probably going to be one of the top teams in our sectional. They're a team that gave West Aurora a great game and they beat Naperville Central on their home floor."
Jeremiah Fleming chipped in with 8 points for the Panthers.
"They made one more play than we did getting to the foul line there," said Larson. "We've got to dictate tempo a little bit better against a team like that."