Geneva wins early test over Schaumburg
Kross Garth is the type of player any coach would love to have, one who likes and cares about what he's doing on the defensive end of the court as much or more than the offensive side.
The Geneva senior post had his hands full Wednesday morning at the Crystal Lake Central Thanksgiving tournament against Schaumburg's Chris Hodges.
Hodges, a 6-foot-7 sophomore center already with an offer from Loyola, was coming off a 22-point game in Schaumburg's season opener Monday.
Garth, a 6-6 senior, held Hodges to 1 field goal and 8 points, and Geneva led nearly the entire way in a 51-39 victory.
"He's (Hodges) pretty good in the post," Garth said. "When he gets position he can be pretty deadly. We were all playing together to try to stop him."
Garth had help from his teammates who doubled down often when Hodges touched the ball. The Vikings held Schaumburg (1-1) to 35.2 percent shooting (12 for 34).
Garth and Josh Preston both grabbed 7 rebounds as the Vikings (2-0) outrebounded the Saxons 30-17.
"Coming into this year we have a pretty solid team," Garth said. "Last year defensively wasn't our strong suit. We've been working on defense this whole summer. It's been a lot better."
Garth also contributed 9 points but it was his play defensively that stood out.
"That's mostly my role," Garth said. "I like to play defense and rebound the ball. Do stuff a lot of people don't like to do."
Geneva's two three-year senior starters Mitch Mascari and Jack McDonald, after combining for 34 points in a season-opening win over Belvidere North on Monday, again led the way.
Mascari scored a game-high 19 points including a sweet spin move and then a fadeaway jumper to help Geneva take a 17-16 lead after one quarter. McDonald added 11 points, 7 assists and 3 steals -- one of those steals started the fourth quarter, and McDonald quickly threw ahead to Preston for a slam dunk.
"Jack and Mitch are so solid," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. "For the second game of the season I was very pleased with how we played."
Schaumburg took its only lead at 18-17 when Mike Hodges drove for a basket to start the second quarter.
Mascari immediately sank a 3-pointer to put Geneva back up, the start of a 12-0 run that included 5 points off the bench from Ben Johlie. The Vikings led 29-19 at halftime and 39-28 after three quarters.
Schaumburg did force 4 straight turnovers midway through the fourth quarter but could never get closer than 45-36 with 3:05 remaining. McDonald, Mascari and Garth went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to put the game away; Geneva finished 10 for 10 at the line and 18 for 38 (47.4 percent) from the field.
"I thought they out-hustled us and we were casual with the basketball," Saxons coach Wade Heisler said. "We took quick shots. Give credit to them. They showed us what we need to do as the season goes on. It gives us a perspective of where we're at.
"We're trying to mix some experience with youth. You can see it come together at times. I like the direction we are moving but at the same time it's what you do between the lines. We have to make it happen Friday night."
Mike Hodges led Schaumburg with 17 points.
The Saxons entered the season ranked No. 7 in the Daily Herald Top 20 to Geneva's 18.
"We knew they were pretty good and that was a test for us early in the season," Mascari said. "We know a lot of those kids. We prepared well. Hennig got us ready. The way we played Hodges defensively helped. That was a good win for us."