The Geneva boys basketball team might not lose a game if the Vikings keep shooting as accurately as they did in Friday's 74-56 victory over St. Charles East.
Host Geneva ran its record to 26-0 and sealed the outright Upstate Eight Conference River Division title by sinking 75 percent of its 3-point attempts (9 of 12) and 55 percent from the field.
Senior Dom Navigato stayed hot. A week after he led the Vikings with 19 points and 9 rebounds in a win at Batavia, the 6-foot-5 forward scored a game-best 26 points to go with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, all while guarding and being guarded by East star Justin Hardy. He drained 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.
"Hardy backed off me, Jack McDonald found me and I just hit my shots," Dom Navigato said.
McDonald fared pretty well himself, except in the first quarter when he left the game briefly due to a collision from which he received 17 postgame stitches. The sophomore point guard returned to action bandaged up and sank three 3-pointers en route to an 18-point, 6 assist performance in the division clincher.
"That was a big goal going into the season," McDonald said of the UEC River title. "As the season went on that was a big focus of ours so it's good to get it done."
St. Charles East (15-8, 6-3) didn't play poorly. Geneva (26-0, 10-0) was just better. The Saints shot a respectable 43 percent from the field (22 of 51), but Geneva won the rebounding battle 31-20. Geneva senior guard Matt Johnston led the Vikings with 9 rebounds to complement his 11 points.
"A key for us was rebounding and we just did not do a good job," St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods said. "They had, I believe, 10 offensive rebounds and they scored 14 points off those. If you cut those down a little bit ... And they shot the heck out of the ball. I know our defense wasn't as good as I want, but you have to give them credit for hitting their shots."
Geneva led 18-9 after one quarter, thanks to 6 of Cole Navigato's 9 points and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by McDonald. The Vikings extended their lead to 13 at the half, thanks in part to Johnston's 7-point second quarter.
The Saints made their best offensive push at the third quarter's outset. Justin Hardy sank 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Zach Mitchell connected on another following a turnover to draw them within 38-32 less than two minutes into the second half.
The Saints trailed 50-39 when Geneva supplied the dagger -- an 8-0 run to close the third quarter. McDonald fueled the push with 6 points from a 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play.
The UEC River title is Geneva's second in three years. It is the program's third conference title in coach Phil Ralston's nine seasons.
"We had lots of issues in this game where we had injuries, guys who are going to be getting stitches tonight, and our guys somehow were able to prevail despite that," Ralston said. "You saw us will ourselves to win tonight, and that's what it really came down to. Our guys, despite the adversity they dealt with, they were able to overcome that. That's what good teams are going to do. East played a heck of a game. In many ways we struggled to guard some of their actions, but our guys offensively were just at their peak performance."
Hardy finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds and Mitchell had 15 points for St. Charles East.