From Quinten Payne to Kendall Stephens to even the last two weeks against Aaron Jordan and Jontrell Walker, finding a way to slow down an opponent's best player has been something of a trademark for Phil Ralston's Geneva Vikings.
Taking the court Friday in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional championship game, the Vikings got a look at another future Division I player, only unlike those stars above, this one does his damage in the paint.
Benet's 6-foot-10 Sean O'Mara proved a matchup nightmare for Geneva, even with 6-7 sophomore Loudon Vollbrecht and 6-7 junior Mike Landi giving everything they had trying to contain him.
O'Mara finished with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field in Benet's 60-41 victory, denying Geneva (25-6) its first sectional title in 51 years.
"It was a challenge," Vollbrecht said. "We had to force him off his right shoulder. Basically what we had to do was stop him from making everyone on the court better. Because that's the No. 1 thing that makes their team win. We did that for awhile but the third quarter he did get away from us."
O'Mara scored 16 of his points in the second half including 10 in Benet's decisive 18-6 third quarter that broke open a tight 3-point game at halftime.
Opponents know they are in for a physical battle when they play Geneva, and the Vikings certainly brought that to O'Mara including one sequence with the 6-2 Pace Temple leaning on O'Mara until he was finally whistled for a foul.
"Our whole season prepared me for this," O'Mara said. "We've seen the beat Sean up game before. It's not really anything new. It's never fun for me but as long as we get the win I'm happy.
"We have two 6-7 kids in practice that basically just beat me up every day. They love it, I hate it, but it gets us these kinds of wins and where we want to be."
The Xavier-bound O'Mara produced a stat line that also included 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots and perhaps most impressively 5 assists.
In addition to one strong post move after another, O'Mara consistently found open teammates either cutting to the basket or standing at the 3-point line.
"He's a great passer," Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. "Our guys do a good job spacing the floor and he did a good job finding people. To run two or three guys at him it's tough to play him if we're making shots on the perimeter and our guys are diving to the basket."
Vollbrecht didn't back down, and he finished with a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his 5 points. That included a two-hand tip dunk in the third quarter that sent Geneva's half of a 3,000-plus crowd into a frenzy.
"I felt momentum, adrenaline in my body," Vollbrecht said of his first varsity dunk. "I was pumped. I couldn't believe it was me."
"I think our guys did about as good of a job as they can do tonight," Ralston said. "We saw Loudon do some things we haven't seen him do all season. We've seen him do it in practice. We haven't seen a kid flush it like that. That was the nicest dunk I've seen all season. For Loudon, that's stuff for him to build on. Michael handled himself well tonight. There are a lot of positives out of this."
Landi's 9 points off the bench trailed only Cam Cook's 10 for the team high.
Landi made 4 of his 5 shots and like Vollbrecht, Nate Navigato and Temple, will all be back next year. Geneva's future is certainly bright.
"This is definitely a learning experience for me. Especially next year going into it I'm going to know what it takes and I'm going to prepare for that and hopefully come back with a sectional title next year," said Navigato, held to 4 points about 14 under his average.
"Unfortunately I should have made way more shots than I did tonight. I'm just happy to play with these guys, all these seniors. Great season. Nobody ever expected us to go this far. It's just a blessing to be out there."
Ralston took time to look around East Aurora's mostly full gym Friday night and see many young Geneva faces in the crowd -- a testament to what this group accomplished.
"I told our kids in the locker room that in the previous years I've been here we've had kids that laid foundations for where we're at right now," Ralston said. "But these guys, this team right here, our seniors in particular and our juniors that were in this role, they didn't lay foundation, they've elevated the program. And so we have people in our community that are a little bit more excited about our program, they got kids in the community, they're excited, we saw a ton of kids here tonight."
Vollbrecht said what Geneva experienced this year -- winning the first regional crown in 28 years -- can be the springboard to even more. Battling the likes of O'Mara will only make Vollbrecht better the next two years.
"It shows our team can play with anyone these upcoming years," Vollbrecht said. "I know we're not going to stop to keep pushing and get better every year. It definitely boosts my confidence."