The Geneva boys basketball game against Upstate Eight River foe Elgin really came down to one thing; could the Vikings handle the pressure of the Maroons' trapping defense.
When it did, Geneva used it' overwhelming size advantage to get easy baskets. When the Vikings turned it over, Elgin converted some easy transition baskets.'
Two buckets from the post by 6-foot-7 center Loudon Love Vollbrecht ignited a 9-0 run by Geneva to start the fourth quarter that was capped by a 3-pointer from 6-7 Nate Navigato and pushed the lead to 15 points. That proved to be too much for the Maroons to overcome as Geneva (16-4, 5-3) came away with a 69-61 victory Friday night in Geneva.
"It's tough to press people when they are 8 inches to 10 inches taller than you," said Elgin coach Mike Sitter. "They can see right over the top and make any pass that they want to make. Overall I was happy with our defensive pressure. We had a few breakdowns where we gave up easy layups; it was either a turnover or an easy one for them."
After the first quarter ended with Elgin (6-11, 2-4) holding a 2-point lead, Geneva went to a lineup that included Vollbrecht and Navigato as well as 6-7 Michael Landi. All three big men contributed on the offensive end and also thwarted any attempts by the Maroons at driving to the basket. The result was a double-digit halftime lead, 36-25, after holding Elgin to just 7 points in the quarter.
"When we went big they really struggled," said Geneva coach Phil Ralston. "We wanted to get it inside and if you look at our shot chart tonight, by and large most of our shots were in the lane."
"We talked about that before the game, to focus on just pounding it inside," said Geneva guard Chris Parrilli. "But they did a really good job of trapping us but we were able to come together and make smarter passes. Once we did that we were able to get tons of points in the paint tonight."
Another big factor in the second quarter was the defensive switch to a diamond-and-one that put Pace Temple on Elgin star Isaiah Butler. Butler, who did finish with a game-high 22 points, hit 2 3-pointers in the first quarter but Temple held him to just one basket in the second quarter.
"We did some nice things defensively," said Ralston. "Our plan was to deny the pass and trap Butler every time he touched the ball."
Elgin made one last run as the Vikings committed 8 of their 26 turnovers in the third quarter. Butler scored 8 in the quarter as did Desmond Sanders as the lead was cut to 44-43 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Geneva was able to right the ship on baskets from Parrilli, who shared team scoring honors with Navigato with 18 points, and Justin Durante to make it 52-46 entering the final quarter.
"W take it as a win, it's a conference win," said Ralston. "We like to think that we are still in the hunt for conference and we just have to keep improving and get ready for St. Charles East."