Valentine's perfect shooting lifts Geneva over Hampshire
Geneva guard Nate Valentine told teammate Chris Suger he didn't like the rims during pregame warmups at Hampshire.
He had a plan, though.
"Just don't hit the rims," a smiling Valentine later said.
The 5-foot-11 junior had reason to grin after his career-high 28-point performance led Geneva to a 67-55 nonconference win Saturday afternoon.
Valentine did not miss. He sank all 8 shots he attempted -- including seven 3-pointers -- and went 5-for-5 at the free-throw line.
Nate Navigato holds the Geneva single-game school record for 3-pointers with nine.
Valentine has enjoyed such hot shooting streaks during private workouts but never in a game. "Especially not a varsity game," he said, "but I've spent countless hours in the gym. It pays off."
Geneva improved to 13-11, largely via the 3-point shot. Five players sank 3-pointers for the Vikings, who made 12 of 19 from that distance.
"We didn't make them uncomfortable," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. "They had a lot of standing threes. One of the things I thought we've done well all year is chasing guys off the line and we did not do it. It was déjà vu, just standing three, standing three. Yeah, they hit them, but we didn't make it hard on them."
The sharpshooting effort was particularly impressive given it was the Vikings' third game in five days and the second of a back-to-back.
"I thought our legs would be shot a little bit," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. "But we have good shooters. Valentine is a 40% 3-point shooter, Suger can shoot the three and Josh (Preston) is starting to make them a higher rate. We got in rhythm and I tried to feed the guys set-wise who were making them."
The game was tied 8-8 in the first quarter when the Vikings heated up. Junior guard Quin McNeive gave Geneva the lead with a 3-pointer. Suger then splashed a 3-pointer from the left corner after each teammate touched the ball in succession without dribbling.
Valentine added to the barrage. He sank 3-pointers on four of Geneva's next six possessions to fuel a 22-7 run. That staked the Vikings to a 30-15 lead midway through the second quarter.
Geneva led 39-23 at halftime and 57-37 after three quarters.
Hampshire (18-7), which played without injured starter Collin Woods (sprained ankle) and Jeremy Rosa, had three double-figure scorers: junior Zach Bailey (11 points), sophomore Adam Ugochukwu (11) and sophomore Keynan Davis (10). Senior Nick Erickson added 9 points.
Geneva senior Drew Johnson finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds and Preston contributed 8 points.