Batavia overtakes Geneva in 4th quarter
It was only a matter of time before Ethan Ivan broke loose.
The Batavia junior was held to just six points through the first three quarters of the Bulldogs' game against rival Geneva Saturday night.
After trailing by as many as nine points late in the third quarter, Ivan fueled a ferocious Batavia comeback victory for a 49-47 win over Geneva (4-2, 2-2) in DuKane Conference action.
Ivan scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs (3-3, 3-1) win their third straight game, despite a valiant effort from Nathan Valentine and Geneva.
"We knew we could get it done," said Ivan, who scored all but three of Batavia's points in the final quarter. "We never thought we were out of it no matter how many [points] we were down. I knew my shots would come and I knew I wouldn't be tired [in the fourth quarter]. I just worked on constantly moving and setting screens to try and tire out whoever was guarding me."
Batavia coach Jim Nazos lauded Ivan's patience through the first three quarters, taking just four shots (making two of them). Ivan made all six shots he took in the second half, while also adding a perfect 3-for-3 from the foul line during his fourth-quarter surge.
Ivan's layup with 1:11 remaining broke a 47-47 tie and proved to be the final and game-winning points.
"[Ethan] didn't lose his head or get frustrated about not getting the ball as much early on," Nazos said. "He's going to have to learn that teams are going to try and take him away. That's what you get when you average 20 points per game. He's learning to become a complete player and that's what we need from him.
"That's twice now this year that we have kept our composure down the stretch and won a close game."
Valentine, who has been front and center of some heroics for the Vikings already this season, nearly added another highlight to his senior season in the waning seconds. After hitting game-winning shots in the final seconds of games twice this season, Valentine got another opportunity.
He caught an inbounds pass, came off a high ball screen with under three seconds to play and let a 3-pointer fly. This time, it landed just short of the front of the rim.
Geneva coach Scott Hennig had a good look at the release and thought Valentine had another clutch basket.
"He almost did it again," Hennig said of Valentine. "It was right on line, but he was a little tired. You have to take that look, but I feel like we shouldn't have been in that spot or needed that shot. I think Batavia was just the tougher team down the stretch."
"They just out-toughed us," said Valentine, who finished with a team-high 18 points. "It's a matter of them wanting it more than us at the end of the game. There was a turnover, a couple of loose balls and it bounced their way tonight."
After Geneva missed its first nine 3-point attempts of the second half, Valentine made back-to-back 3s -- the latter of which gave the Vikings a 47-43 lead with 2:51 to play.
Ivan scored the final six points of the game, including the Bulldogs winning the battle of a loose ball that found the junior forward alone to score the game-winning hoop.
A third straight conference victory and a win against a rival is something that the Bulldogs hope they can build off in games to come.
"It's a good win against a good [Geneva] team," Nazos said. "I think the rivalry looms more for the players, fans and communities than it does to me. I just want to play well and get wins. This was a good team and we have to keep it going [moving forward]."
Geneva's Dylan Fuzak (16 points) and Batavia's Luke Fehrenbacher (14 points) also reached double figures for their respective teams.