Schaumburg pulls out hard-fought win over Geneva
With teams matched as evenly as Schaumburg and Geneva were Wednesday morning at the Crystal Lake Central Thanksgiving Tournament, a fine line existed between leaving with a win or loss.
The Saxons executed slightly better, getting a couple high-percentage shots for their best player with the game on the line in the final minutes. Wisconsin-bound Chris Hodges scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half including Schaumburg's final five in a 47-45 victory.
"Just focusing on the little details to make us win," Hodges said. "I played more aggressive (in the second half). I let the game come to me. Picking little openings in the defense and going aggressively to the rim."
Both teams played well. Schaumburg (2-0) shot 52.6 percent from the field (20 for 38), just a tick better than Geneva's 51.5 (17 for 33). The Saxons only turned the ball over 9 times, Geneva 10.
Unfortunately for the Vikings (1-1), five of those turnovers came in the opening quarter and put them in a hole they spent the rest of the game trying to dig out of. Jared Schoo, Vaurice Patterson and Armen Torosian all scored on transition layups fueled by the defensive end during an 11-0 run for a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
Torosian scored 9 points off the bench as did Joe Sturino who beat the second-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that put the Saxons up 26-19 at halftime.
"It was a huge lift," Saxons coach Wade Heisler said. "We executed that to perfection. We have quite a few kids we think can make 3s this year."
Hodges scored Schaumburg's first six points of the second half including a thunderous putback dunk to help the Saxons take their biggest lead at 33-23.
But Geneva fought back, also getting strong play from its bench. The Vikings scored the final 8 points of the quarter, all by their reserves who outscored the starters, 23-22. Josh Preston's high-low pass inside to Dylan Fuzak started the 8-0 run that also included 3s by Fuzak and Nathan Hilkemann to tie the game at 37 going to the fourth.
Fuzak's putback gave Geneva a 39-37 lead, its first since 3-2, and a 3-pointer by Nathan Valentine tied the game at 42 with four minutes remaining.
Schaumburg worked the ball inside to Hodges for a go-ahead basket, then Hodges swished a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 47-42 lead.
Valentine's 3 brought Geneva within 47-45 with 1:21 left. The Vikings got the ball back after Drew Johnson's steal but turned the ball over themselves.
Geneva had one last chance after the Saxons missed a 1-and-1. Preston got a good look on a 3-pointer that rimmed off with 2 seconds remaining.
"The guys focused in and really finished with composure," Heisler said. "I thought it started with our communication. It's a really quality win for us, one that we think takes the program to another level. They are so well coached and skilled and smart and I thought our kids played smart themselves and got the win."
Preston, the only returning starter from Geneva's sectional champs last year who is headed to the University of Chicago, said his new varsity teammates can learn from playing against Hodges.
"He's a great player," Hodges said. "He hit some really tough shots and that putback dunk was amazing. There's a reason he's going to Wisconsin.
"I think we'll learn from this and we'll come back stronger. If we make a mistake here that's fine, I want them to learn from it and become better varsity players."
Fuzak paced a balanced Geneva attack with 10 points.
"I thought we shot the ball well," Vikings coach Scott Hennig said. "We were able to run our stuff better. We were so senior heavy last year which was great but time to move on."