One rival down, another intriguing matchup up next.
Fourteenth-seeded Geneva suffocated Batavia in the first half Monday at the Class 4A Metea Valley regional on its way to a 55-46 victory to earn a semifinal date Tuesday with the host Mustangs.
That's Metea Valley as in the No. 3 seed and the favorite to win this regional.
And Metea Valley as in the team with just four losses, winning its first 14 games before being tripped up in overtime by Waubonsie Valley. Hinsdale Central, Lake Park and Elgin also defeated Metea Valley, the most recent loss to the Maroons in the Upstate Eight Conference first-place crossover game. Metea lost those four games by a total of 14 points.
And Metea Valley as in a team coached by Bob Vozza and assisted by Tim Pease Pease of course the Geneva grad and longtime Vikings coach until current Geneva coach Phil Ralston replaced him four years ago.
Pease was on hand Monday scouting Geneva-Batavia but declined to talk about the matchup with his former school. Ralston had nothing but good things to say about Pease while also emphasizing all he is worried about is finding a way to slow down the 22-4 Mustangs.
"Tim is a good man," Ralston said. "I think the world of him as a coach. It's another team on our schedule. That's the way I look at it. To me there is nothing that is personal about this game, it's just trying to give our kids the best opportunity to win and I'm sure Bob and his staff will do the same for them."
The Vikings should be confident coming in. Among other reasons they are 2-0 this year against District 204 schools having defeated Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley.
The Vikings also can build off Monday's solid win over Batavia in a game they never trailed, though one Ralston wishes the IHSA would have held somewhere else after seeing the stands about half full.
"Tonight was OK but let's be realistic," Ralston said. "If this was at Batavia or Geneva or one of the St. Charles schools and it is more localized that gym would have been packed. I think that's where the people that are calling the shots are kind of missing the point."
As for playing against Pease, at least one Geneva player said he is looking forward to it. Senior Brendan Leahy knows the former coach well.
"He's my gym teacher," Leahy said. "It will be a fun little rivalry thing there.
"We all when we were little we went up though his camps. We know him really well and he knows us really well. He's always very positive to us."
Geneva fans who remember the Vikings under Pease as a team that liked to put points on the board would recognized a similar trait in Metea Valley. The Mustangs hit 100 against Eisenhower and scored 87 or more four other games this year.
Ralston certainly isn't expecting Metea Valley to have 8 points at halftime like Batavia did Monday. He hopes they don't have eight points in the first minute.
"It is a matchup nightmare for us. They are going to be a difficult team for us to contain on the perimeter. They are very athletic. We're going to have to have one or the best games we've ever had for a chance to beat them."
Batavia High School
Geneva High School
Conference: Upstate Eight River
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