Geneva makes successful return to Naperville North
Nine Geneva seniors returned to the scene of the end.
It took a reminder to make sure it didn't happen again.
The Vikings pulled out Thursday's 61-56 boys basketball victory over Naperville North in overtime after Huskies freshman Zeke Williams knocked down a 3-pointer to start the extra period.
Jack McDonald -- one of the many seniors who remember last season's regional final loss to the Huskies at Naperville North -- responded by drilling two straight 3-pointers and assisting a Joshua Preston bucket that gave Geneva the lead for good at 55-51.
Garret Sneed knocked down 6 of 6 free-throw attempts in the final 39 seconds to seal the Vikings' 17th win in 18 games this season.
"Our experience down the stretch helped us pull it out," said McDonald, who finished with a team-high 16 points. "We need to learn to put teams away a little bit better, but I think it's going to help us come playoff time because we're going to be in a lot of close games."
Geneva looked on the verge of getting decent separation on the Huskies (11-7) throughout the game. Naperville North thwarted runs of 7-0 and 10-0, and rallied from a 39-30 deficit late in the third quarter.
Riley Thompson scored 8 straight points for the Huskies to narrow the gap to 39-38. A free throw by Loyola-bound Tom Welch capped a 6-0 run from the line and tied the game at 45-45 with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter. After Mitch Mascari scored for Geneva, Grant Johnson hit a pair of free throws to tie it again for the Huskies.
McDonald nearly won it in regulation but his shot in the waning seconds went just off the mark.
"I'm so proud of them," said Geneva coach Scott Hennig. "We lost in the regional championship last year to these guys. Obviously, it's a new coach, different team. But our guys remember. We circled this at the beginning of the year."
Welch scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Huskies despite being hounded defensively most of the night by Kross Garth, who scored 15 points before fouling out. Thompson scored 11 and Myles Barry 10 points for Naperville North while Mascari scored 13 points for Geneva.
"They're a veteran team and you can tell they've played together for a long time," Naperville North coach Gene Nolan said of Geneva. "I thought our kids gave a great effort. I'm not disappointed in our kids. I'm disappointed for our kids."