2016-'17 Season Coverage
updated: 1/11/2017 12:37 AM

Geneva ties record for best start in program history

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  • Video: Elgin at Geneva basketball

 
 

Geneva has competed in boys basketball since 1904-05 but no team in school history has enjoyed a hotter start than the 2016-17 Vikings.

Geneva tied the record for best start in program history without a loss Tuesday with a 67-41 Upstate Eight River win over visiting Elgin for its 15th straight.

The 1958-59 team also won its first 15 games. The Vikings can break the record Thursday when they host Woodstock in the opener of Lake Zurich's 5-game Martin Luther King Tournament.

"That's a really good accomplishment," Geneva senior Dom Navigato said of tying the mark. "I'm hoping we can break it on Thursday night. That would be awesome."

The season-opening streak doesn't approach the program's all-time winning streak of 29 in a row set by the 1962-63 team, which reached the Elite Eight before losing to Carver 57-50.

Geneva coach Phil Ralston said his players will note the milestone but won't dwell on it.

"We told our kids, obviously, they have much to be proud of," Ralston said. "We certainly want them to celebrate tying the record and it's wonderful for them to have put themselves in the history books of our program. But at the same time we have a tournament this weekend and we're not even halfway through the conference. There are still goals out there for us to work toward."

Elgin (9-6, 3-3) gave the first-place Vikings, who improved to 5-0 in the UEC River, all they could handle for most of two quarters. The Maroons drew within 24-21 with 2:15 left in the second quarter when 5-foot-7 sophomore guard Latrell Hudson sank a 3-pointer to cap a 9-2 run.

However, the Vikings reeled of 6 straight points to end the half and take a 9-point lead at intermission. Sophomore Jack McDonald fueled that push with 2 steals that led to fast-break buckets.

Elgin was within 33-26 a few minutes into the third quarter until Geneva hit the gas and outscored the Maroons 34-13 over the final 13 minutes. Rather than challenge Elgin 6-foot-8 senior Courtese Cooper in the lane, the Vikings bombed away from the outside, sinking 5 of their 11 3-pointers in that final stretch.

"We were just looking more outside instead of forcing it inside against (Cooper) because we couldn't get anything against him," said Geneva sophomore Mitch Mascari, who sank a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points. "We were just pushing it more outside because we knew we had open looks out there."

Five players made 3-pointers for Geneva. Senior guard Matt Johnston (18 points) and 6-5 senior Dom Navigato (9 points) sank 3 shots apiece from 3-point range.

"They can all shoot," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said, "so that's a matchup problem for us because we have a 6-8 kid who wants to stay in the lane all the time. We had talked about that. He didn't do a very good job of showing on ballscreens and he didn't do a very good job of getting out on shooters."

Meanwhile, Johnston, at 6-2½, guarded the 6-8 Cooper and limited him to 8 first-half points and 9 rebounds. Cooper on Saturday scored 27 points and grabbed 18 rebounds against Streamwood.

"I just used my athleticism," Johnston said. "He's a great player, but I thought if I just out-hustled him, I'd break him down at a certain point and get him frustrated, which I think happened. He's a great player, but heart over height in this case."

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