Geneva beats Wheaton North to clinch DKC title
Geneva wrapped up the first DuKane Conference boys basketball title with plenty of time to spare thanks to Tuesday's 60-51 victory at Wheaton North.
Before the season Vikings coach Scott Hennig thought the DKC champion might finish with three or four losses. In the unlikely event that happens, it'll still be Geneva (25-1, 11-1).
With Tuesday's game tied at 51-51 and 2 minutes, 11 seconds left, the Vikings scored the game's final 9 points. Baskets by Ben Johlie and Josh Preston, along with four straight free throws from Mitch Mascari, sent Geneva into celebration mode.
"We wanted to get it over with as soon as possible," said Mascari, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. "We didn't want to drag it on. We just wanted to win it, take it home and know we've got it."
Geneva rallied from a 39-30 third-quarter deficit to reclaim a 45-42 advantage on a Mascari 3-pointer. The lead changed hands on four of the next six possessions -- the score became tied on the other two -- starting with Garrett Horner's 3-pointer for Wheaton North. After Jack McDonald hit a 3-pointer for Geneva to make it 51-49, Deng Reng's putback tied it at 51 for Wheaton North (16-11, 8-4).
Critical turnovers and a couple misses down the stretch prevented the Falcons from taking the lead again. Geneva made 7 of 8 fourth-quarter free throws and committed only 5 second-half turnovers after committing 11 in the first half.
"I thought the guys played well, we just made too many mistakes," said Falcons coach Dave Brackmann. "It comes down to a lot of little things that add up. That's the best team in the (Class 4A Bartlett) sectional and we've had them on the ropes twice. It's really disappointing not to beat them, but we know we're still capable of really good things."
Preston led Geneva with 16 points while McDonald had 11 and Kross Garth scored 9 points off the bench. Reng led all scorers with 21 points while Horner added 14 points and Matthew Brend scored 8 points.
"I'm just proud of my guys," Hennig said. "I told them they'll always have their names on the wall at Geneva High School as the first-ever DuKane Conference champions. They deserve a ton of credit."