There's getting off to a good start in a game. And then there's what Geneva did to Huntley Wednesday at the Crystal Lake Central Thanksgiving tournament.
Matt Johnston drained a 3 on Geneva's first possession. Cole Navigato hit one on the second.
Johnston assisted a cutting Navigato inside for an 8-0 lead 1:45 into the game, and the first of what would be three timeouts by Huntley coach Will Benson in the game's opening 10 minutes followed.
The Red Raiders switched from zone to man after the timeout, but the Geneva baskets kept coming. Navigato scored again, Johnston hit a jumper, Dom Navigato converted a putback, then Dom Navigato drilled a 3 for a 16-0 lead.
Geneva coach Phil Ralston went to his bench. Freshman Nathaniel Santos's steal and layup made it 18-0 before a free throw by Zack Loveisky finally got the Red Raiders on the scoreboard with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings weren't done yet, ending the quarter with a buzzer-beater by Dom Navigato to make it 22-1, then opening the second quarter with two buckets by Cole Navigato and another by Johnston for a 28-1 lead. Ralston substituted liberally the rest of the way, and 12 Vikings scored in a 65-23 Geneva victory.
"It's been awhile since I've seen a score like that," Ralston said. "Our goal coming in was we were really concerned about some of their shooters so we really emphasized the last couple days how to defend their actions. I thought our kids did a great job with the scout knowing how to defend them. I tell you, we've got some good athletes."
And young athletes. Santos and sophomores Jack McDonald and Mitch Mascari join the Navigatos and Johnston in the top six rotation.
"We have a good mixture of youth and experience," Ralston said. "What we know so far is we have gelled pretty well early in the season. That was a huge concern for my assistant (Scott Hennig) and I. We wanted to see some good harmony and some guys be good teammates and so far we have been fantastic."
Huntley (1-1) came into the game off a last-second win over Belvidere North. Mathew Seng, who had 24 points including the game-winning 3-pointer in that game, didn't score Wednesday.
The Red Raiders made just 7 of 43 shots from the field (16.2 percent) while Geneva hit half of theirs, 25 of 50, including nine 3s.
"That was crazy," Cole Navigato said of the 28-1 lead. "That is the first time I have experienced that. We ran our stuff correctly and played great defense."
With a 39-10 game at halftime and 46-15 after three quarters, both teams were able to give their benches extended playing time in the fourth. Devin Navigato, Michael Karas, Joe Tucholski and Jacob Carli all swished 3-pointers for Geneva, and Will Courter totaled 6 points and 6 rebounds.
"We started off strong on defense and our offense was working too," said Dom Navigato, the only player on either team in double figures with 12 points. "They (the underclassmen) are fitting in pretty well. It's going good so far."
Loveisky led Huntley with 7 points. The Red Raiders will try to bounce back Friday against Hohonegah while Geneva plays Prairie Ridge.
"It was just the perfect storm," Benson said. "We came out a little flat and they got going and we couldn't ever stop the ball from rolling. We couldn't get a stop and we couldn't score.
"We wanted to come out and zone and force them to take contested 3s. The problem was all those shots were wide open. We told the kids, we are playing good teams, and good teams are going to expose what you are not good at. Three years in a row we've played those guys and three years it has been a struggle. They are good."