Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
On one hand, East Aurora High School is becoming a painful place for Geneva senior Chris Parrilli and his nose to play basketball.
On the other, Parrilli -- and every Geneva basketball follower on hand Wednesday night -- will remember East Aurora High School quite fondly for the sweetest moment of his career and one of the best in the school's long history.
Parrilli suffered a bloody nose when Geneva played at the East Aurora Christmas Tournament earlier this season.
Under the same basket Wednesday night in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional semifinals, Parrilli again suffered a bloody nose while scrambling with West Aurora star Roland Griffin for a loose ball in the fourth quarter.
Parrilli had to leave the game for several minutes. He returned with 4:40 remaining, and with four seconds left he calmly swished a 10-foot jumper from the right baseline that broke a 68-68 tie and gives Geneva a shot at its first sectional title since 1963.
West Aurora junior Tommy Koth had just made the fourth of his four straight clutch free throws to tie the game with 13 seconds left, and overtime looked like it would be a fitting way to decide an extremely hard-fought, well-played, evenly-matched, down-to-the-wire semifinal.
The Vikings, with no timeouts left, had other ideas, with Nate Navigato bringing the ball up to half court, finding Cam Cook who penetrated and dished to Parrilli for the first game-winning shot he could remember.
"Cook had a great play, unselfish, got by his man and found me open in the corner and I knocked it down," Parrilli said. "Great drive. I just knocked down the open shot. I knew I had to come up and knock it down.
"I love pressure. I think I handle it pretty well."
Parrilli's night got off to a tough start with two early fouls. But by the fourth quarter the team's second-leading scorer this season was back in the flow of the game and making an impact on both ends when he and Griffin went to the floor in the corner for a loose ball.
"We were both just hustling after the ball," Parrilli said. "I don't think he did it intentionally or anything. His elbow just swung back and caught me in the nose."
Geneva coach Phil Ralston couldn't believe a foul wasn't called on the play.
"It was a definite elbow to the face, still can't fathom how that was let go," Ralston said. "It was so evident what happened. Here you have a guy gushing blood from an elbow to the face and there's no call."
Parrilli returned to the game with gauze in his left nostril to stop the bleeding.
"The trainers did a great job to get (me) back into the game and it didn't affect me too much," Parrilli said. "I was standing in the corner watching the game but got cleaned up quickly, got back in."
Parrilli's return couldn't come fast enough for Ralston.
"I was getting worried with him being gone that long," Ralston said. "Someone was holding him from getting back on the floor. If they would let him play with blood dripping down his nose he would play that way. I don't question Chris' toughness. I thought it was something more serious if they were going to hold him out that long."
Parrilli's game-winning shot gave him 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, part of Geneva's extremely efficient 62.5 percent shooting (25 of 40) from the field while also making 6 of 13 on its 3s and 14 of 19 at the line.
The Vikings needed each and every one of those shots to go in to beat a West Aurora team that also made all kinds of clutch shots.
That included a combined 14 of 14 from the free-throw line by Jontrell Walker and Koth, and a big night from Griffin in quite the matchup with another future Division I forward in Geneva's junior star Navigato.
"Coach said everyone is going to make runs, they made theirs, we made ours and we were able to sustain it," Navigato said.
Parrilli's 11 points also put four Vikings in double figures, the type of team effort they have used to reach the sectional championship game.
Geneva has done that while facing a grueling draw that has seen the Vikings beat a 19-10 Plainfield East team on its home court, come from 15 points down to beat No. 3 seed Bolingbrook, and now take out a No. 2 seeded West Aurora team that had won the past two sectional titles.
"After what we did last Friday night I had no doubt in my team," Parrilli said. "We refused to lose. That's our motto right now. Right now we know we can beat anybody, we have come back, we just keep refusing to lose and throwing everything we have at everyone. We know we can handle anything now."
As tough as the last three wins have been, it's going to take another of Geneva's very best efforts against No. 1 seed Benet Friday night.
"Every game we have is gravy," Ralston said. "I like gravy. I like getting extra helpings of gravy. This is a gravy game for us. It's all this is.
"Everything we've done in the off-season was to get out and play on that floor. The kids have done that. They've given themselves an opportunity to play for a sectional title. From my standpoint all the pressure is on Benet. For us we're going to go out there and compete and have fun."