St. Charles East sweeps series from Geneva
Joe Musial lives up to his nickname virtually each time he touches the basketball.
"I call him 'The Jet,'" St. Charles East coach Pat Woods said after the Saints' 66-58 victory over DuKane Conference rival Geneva on Friday. "He's fast. He's fast with the ball, and he can just get by people."
The Saints (18-6, 9-1) continue to go full speed ahead. St. Charles East's win was its ninth straight, and allowed the Saints to keep pace with St. Charles North atop the conference heading into next Friday's showdown in St. Charles. The Saints also swept the season series with Geneva (12-11, 3-7).
Musial, a junior reserve guard, was a leading scorer on the sophomore team last season. He had a modest six points and a rebound off the bench Friday, but it's evident why he's a fit within the Saints up-tempo system.
"He's a good free throw shooter; he's a good shooter," Woods said. "He's got a huge potential ahead of him if he works, which I know he will. That's why you saw him in there at the end. He keeps getting better everyday, (and) I think the more he learns the game and understands what we're trying to do, the better he's going to get."
Saints senior Aidan Sullivan, who scored 13 points, says Musial is "a new energy right off the bench."
"Every game, he's that spark, so if he keeps on going the way he is, he's going to be a great player."
On the practice floor, Musial continues his high-energy and speedy effort.
"Every day, he's go, go go ... like we said earlier, he's a jet," Sullivan said.
The nickname apparently originated with Saints assistant coach Michael Murphy, and it's stuck ever since.
"With a team with 11 players who play as often as we do, it's important that everyone takes their roles as serious as like the starters," Musial said. "So, when I get my opportunity, I just do what I have to do. And just contribute to the win."
"I feel really comfortable with whoever I'm out there with," Musial continued. "I don't put anyone above me or below me. I know what I'm capable of, and I think that's all that matters."
Geneva erased a 13-point deficit to pull within 31-29 at the half. St. Charles East surged back ahead by 14 by the end of the third quarter, but the Vikings fought to close the gap to four behind a strong scoring rally from Josh Preston, Nate Valentine and Chris Suger.
Preston hit a layup, followed by Suger's 3-pointer to pull within 56-47 with 4:44 left. Preston followed with a dunk before Valentine converted a three-point play to cut the Saints' lead to 56-52.
The Saints maintained their lead at the free-throw line, hitting 6-of-9 down the stretch to stave off the Geneva rally.
St. Charles East was led by Chase Monkemeyer's 15 points, while Sean Sullivan had 12 points.
Geneva was paced by Preston's 15 points and 5 rebounds, while Drew Johnson had 13 points and Valentine 12.
"I actually thought we did a nice job against the press," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. "We missed too many free throws; I think we missed 10. But, we played hard. I thought we competed 50-50 balls.
"Josh was great again; he was the difference on the press. Drew [Johnson] I thought played a great floor game. He missed some tough shots ... I told the guys after the game 'keep your heads up'. I thought they did A-work against the press and the trapping."