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Occasionally, adjustments have little to do with X's and O's.
Winless against St. Charles East in the six years Phil Ralston's been coaching Geneva's boys basketball team, a different approach was required.
Saturday the visiting Vikings took the court for pregame warm-ups straight off the bus, toting gym bags and changing to game shoes from street kicks in a tact consistent with their nickname.
"We tried something new," said Vikings forward Nate Navigato. "We 'stormed the beach.'"
That included pillaging the backboards. Gobbling more offensive rebounds, 19, than St. Charles East's total, Geneva won the board battle 47-16.
Though St. Charles East turned the ball over a crazy-low 5 times, twice on offensive fouls, Geneva's second and third chances won the game by a surprising 67-49 margin in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
"We told them we're treating this like it's our home game and the locker room is the bus," Ralston said.
"I give credit to my two assistants, Coach (Rob) Wicinski and Coach (Scott) Hennig," Ralston said. "They talked with the boys and they said, listen, we need to do something different, what's different? They called this one 'Storming the Beach.' So I said, 'OK. If we're going to storm the beach we better be storming when we come out in this game,' and we sure did."
Neither team stormed much anything for half of the first quarter. But when 6-foot-7 Mike Landi and guard Pace Temple came off the bench Geneva (17-4, 6-3) took a 9-0 lead, never to trail.
Temple, always up for a scrap, grabbed 7 rebounds to join 6-7 Navigato and 6-7 Loudon Vollbrecht with that figure while Landi had 6 rebounds and guards Justin Durante and Chris Parrilli no fewer then 4 each.
"I think that just goes to our mentality tonight," Ralston said. "We needed to come out with a completely different focus, a different mindset for how we approached this game."
St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods had his boys open in a 2-3 zone defense rather than the trapping man-to-man the Saints usually run.
As St. Charles East (12-10, 6-4) succeeds often translating defense to offense -- even in this loss they forced 15 turnovers with Mick Vyzral, Cole Gentry and Jake Asquini each snagging 2 steals apiece -- Woods felt the zone-induced tempo may have initially gone against his club.
"So the tone of the game, I'll take the blame for as far as the start," Woods said. "But as far as getting outrebounded 41 to 15 (not counting team rebounds), I don't care what defense you play, you can't get outrebounded 41 to 15."
Down 14-4 after one quarter, St. Charles East may have gotten something going on a Gentry 3 put them within 16-7 early in the second quarter. Instead the Saints got called for a taunting technical which led to 4 straight Navigato points and a Vollbrecht third-chance putback.
"I thought we did a good job on the initial possession," said Gentry, whose 13 points led the Saints against Geneva's 2-1-2 zone. "But the one that killed us was the second shot and the third shot, because you're all collapsing, they get the rebound, kick it out and they've got a wide-open 3. So then we've got to scramble again and other people are open. It wasn't always on the first shot, it was maybe the second or third shots."
Geneva led 31-17 at halftime and then picked it up a notch, Landi and Temple scoring twice in transition to push the lead to 46-24 at 2:26 of the third quarter.
Up 48-32 after Temple's crossover move to close out the third quarter, Geneva opened the fourth on an 8-0 run that included a Navigato transition two-handed dunk from a Cam Cook assist. With 2:59 to play and the Vikings leading 61-39, Ralston employed his bench.
Navigato led all scorers with 16 points followed by Landi with 13, Temple with 12. The Saints' Dom Adduci scored 8, his first game below 15 save for a December blowout win over Streamwood.
"Especially for these seniors to get a win against them is awesome," Navigato said, "and we came out with a lot of heart."