Navigato's 28 leads Geneva past DeKalb

  • Geneva's Nate Navigato slam dunks against Dekalb Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

      Geneva's Nate Navigato slam dunks against Dekalb Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Pace Temple draws a foul from Dekalb's Ethan Conroy Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

      Geneva's Pace Temple draws a foul from Dekalb's Ethan Conroy Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Loudon Love Vollbrecht drives against Dekalb's Luke Davis Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

      Geneva's Loudon Love Vollbrecht drives against Dekalb's Luke Davis Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Loudon Love Vollbrecht and Dekalb's Ethan Conroy battle for the ball Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

      Geneva's Loudon Love Vollbrecht and Dekalb's Ethan Conroy battle for the ball Tuesday in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/3/2015 10:55 PM

Nate Navigato, Pace Temple and Loudon Vollbrecht are no strangers to pressure-packed basketball games.

Geneva's terrific trio repeatedly made clutch plays down the stretch to help the Vikings fight off stubborn DeKalb 66-52 in Tuesday night's Class 4A regional semifinal contest in Geneva.

 

Together, Navigato, Temple and Vollbrecht combined for 57 points -- a whopping 86 percent of their team's offense -- as the top-seeded Vikings raised their record to 26-3, second only to legendary coach Mel Johnson's 1962-63 squad that finished 30-3.

More importantly, the Vikings earned a spot in Friday's regional championship game against either St. Charles East (23-3) or St. Charles North (18-8).

"It's my senior year," said Navigato, who poured in a game-high 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting from the field. "It's crazy to think that but there was no way I was losing this game tonight. I was going to do anything it takes."

The 6-7 guard/forward drained back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second half as the Vikings turned a slim 25-23 halftime advantage into a 31-25 lead.

Later, the University at Buffalo recruit added a tough runner in the lane before beating the third-quarter buzzer with a thunderous 2-hand dunk as the Vikings carried a 41-35 lead into the final period.

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"Nate showed why he's a D-1 player tonight," said Geneva coach Phil Ralston. "Some of those moves -- wow -- outside and inside, creating his shot, hitting 3s, post-ups, getting after loose balls. He really proved himself tonight."

Navigato, who scored 17 second-half points, admittedly took on more of an offensive load against a Barbs (22-8) team that made things tough for the Vikings.

"I had more of an attack mentality today," said Navigato. "I knew if I scored inside, my 3s would open up."

"Navigato is a crafty kid who worked hard to get open," said DeKalb coach Al Biancalana. "Every time it seemed he got open, he made us pay for it."

When Navigato wasn't hurting DeKalb, his teammates Vollbrecht and Temple did.

Vollbrecht, a 6-8 power forward, more than neutralized 6-7 Barbs junior Luke Davis (14 points, 9 rebounds) with 17 points on 8 of 10 shooting to go with 7 rebounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's a great percentage but that's what happens when you get great looks," said Vollbrecht.

DeKalb, which led 11-10 after 1 quarter, tied the game at 35-all on Ethan Conroy's clutch 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter.

However, Temple answered 9 seconds later as he drove through the middle of the Barbs' defense for a 3-point play that gave the Vikings the lead for good.

"I was definitely trying to be aggressive," said Temple, who scored 11 of his 12 points in the second half. "With our ability to rebound, a lot of times when I take it to the hole and miss, it becomes an easy putback."

After DeKalb clawed within 52-48 on Davis' layup with 3:19 remaining, the Vikings closed out the contest with a 14-4 surge.

"We can learn a few things from how they (Barbs) run their offense," said Ralston. "I thought our kids did a very good job of trying to make them take tough shots."

Junior guard Michael Pollack paced DeKalb with 18 points, including four 3-pointers.

"We ran out of gas there a little in the second half," said Biancalana. "That's a veteran team (Geneva). Those kids have played a lot of minutes together and it showed tonight."

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