Lake Park hands Geneva its first loss
If the recent eight-game winning streak wasn't a good enough indication of how improved Lake Park is this winter, then Friday night sealed the deal.
Overcoming a 9-point halftime deficit, the Lancers handed previously unbeaten Geneva its first loss with a 62-56 decision in Roselle.
Lake Park evened its DuKane Conference record at 3-3, improving to 12-5 overall, while the Vikings fell to 15-1 and 4-1.
"Coach (Billy Pitcher) has been telling us that we have so much potential to be a great team," said junior Trevor Montiel, who totaled 18 points and 6 rebounds. "This win proves that. Geneva is one of the top teams in the state. This proves to everybody what we are capable of when we play together."
The third quarter turned out to be the difference as the home team battled back from a 27-18 hole. Outscoring Geneva 20-8 in the period, the Lancers tied the score at 33 on two free throws by Montrell Perry and then took the lead for good with a basket by Perry. The junior guard finished with 11 points.
Lake Park built the margin to as many as 9 points in the fourth and then held on with an outstanding effort at the free-throw line. They made 13 free throws down the stretch, six by Luke Sgarbossa. He finished 8 of 10 from the line and led all scorers with 21 points.
"Down the stretch it was about executing and hitting our free throws," Sgarbossa said. "In the third quarter it really started with coming out with energy on defense. Just getting stops and going the other way. We've really been focusing on our defense. And everybody plays as a team, there is no selfishness. Everyone works together."
Max Ellenbecker also checked into double figures with 10 points.
"Our guys, they never quit," said Pitcher, whose team's only loss in the past 10 games was a 1-point defeat to Wheaton Warrenville South. "They had that run on us in the second quarter. They are a great team obviously and they have that spurtability. In the second half we were able to calm things down. It was just a great team effort."
Geneva led 11-7 after the first eight minutes before a mini-run by Lake Park gave the home team an 18-15 lead. The Vikings then ended the half on a 12-0 charge, highlighted by a pair of three-point plays from Ben Johnson.
Mitch Mascari led the visitors with 20 points and Jack McDonald chipped in with 13, including a perfect 7-for-7 performance from the line. Geneva connected on only three 3-pointers in the game, all by Mascari.
"They hit shots and some of ours didn't fall," said senior Kross Garth, who hauled down 9 rebounds. "It's their home court and they definitely surprised us. But we are going to go in tomorrow (against Glenbard North), play confidently and hopefully start another run."