Preston, Geneva slam St. Charles North
Geneva once again made plenty of fundamentally sound, correct basketball decisions in a 63-50 DuKane Conference victory Saturday night at St. Charles North, but it was the handful of highlight reel plays that brought about plenty of postgame smiles.
Josh Preston, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, found himself in the middle of a couple of such plays.
He came up with a steal that he took the other way for a breakaway dunk in the middle of an 8-0 run to close the third quarter, turning a 42-38 deficit into a 46-42 lead. Geneva (18-1, 6-1) would never trail again.
Preston also put the closing touches on the win with his team up 54-48 and 2:30 remaining. St. Charles North (7-10, 2-5) misfired on a 3-pointer, which led to a long rebound that Preston hustled for and tipped to himself just before the North Stars could corral it.
Preston gathered the ball and headed for what looked like could be another breakaway jam. St. Charles North's Luke Scheffers went up for a hard foul, wrapping up Preston to deny the easy score, only to see Preston still somehow flip in an acrobatic finish.
Scheffers was whistled for an intentional foul as the Vikings stretched their lead to 57-48 and never looked back, closing the game on a 15-4 run.
"Scheffers is a friend of mine and I don't think he wanted me to dunk that ball," Preston said. "I don't think he expected me to make that shot. I didn't even expect to make that shot. I didn't know it went in until everyone came around me. I just threw the shot up."
Preston scored a game-high 19 points, one of four Vikings in double figures with Kross Garth (14), Jack McDonald (13) and Mitch Mascari (13).
"He's a special talent," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said of Preston who is back to 100 percent after missing over two weeks of action with a sprained ankle.
"I've always known he's a special athlete but his shooting has improved, his post moves have improved, he's got a high IQ, he passes the ball well from the high post. He does a lot of little things."
Garth provided a couple more of those highlight plays. He took a perfect lob pass from McDonald on a second quarter fastbreak and finished with an alley-oop dunk, then threw down another slam late in the fourth quarter.
McDonald had 8 assists.
"They wouldn't get back on transition very well and I made eye contact with Jack a little bit and we talked about leaking out and he found me a couple times," Garth said. "That's where I got most of my points was just running."
St. Charles North's best stretch came in the third quarter, an 11-0 run that began with Connor Linke's 3-point play and ended with Lucas Heflen's bucket erasing a 7-point deficit to go up 42-38.
But as has been the case in several games, the North Stars couldn't execute down the stretch, turning the ball over six times in the fourth quarter. Tyler Czerniak paced St. Charles North in scoring with 13 points.
"That's (Geneva) a team that knows how to win against a team that's determined to figure it out," North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. "We didn't get the ball inside enough. We didn't execute in the crucial moments. This is who we are. We're going to keep battling and learn from these."
Heflen added 11 points and Linke scored 9 for the North Stars despite picking up three fouls in the first half.
"I know we can play better than we did tonight," Poulin said. "It's a great group of kids that are willing to be coached. We'll get there when it's all said and done."