GENEVA – For Jason Rader, Nick Marsh and Max Cary, it’s good to be back.
The trio went undefeated and won the championship at Saturday’s Swedish Days 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Geneva.
“Some part of this team here has won eight of the last 12 tournaments,” Rader, a Geneva native, said.
The event included a youth and adult tournament, with the kids playing in the morning, while the adults started after. The tournament was a double-elimination format, so for Rader, Marsh and Cary, winning all of their games gave them a break before the championship match as the finalists from the consolation bracket played.
For 33-year olds Rader and Marsh, their playing days trace all the way back to high school, when they faced each other in the school circuit, with Rader on Geneva and Marsh on Batavia.
“I don’t know how they let the Batavia guy on the team,” Marsh joked. “They just wouldn’t let me wear red.”
This continued onto their collegiate days, when they faced off in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, with Rader playing at Millikin in Decatur and Marsh competing at North Central College in Naperville.
As for the youngster on the team, Cary, 22, is also from Geneva, and was coached by Rader at the high school. Cary played Division III basketball at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis. – in the same conference as Marsh and Rader. Together, the trio plays in a Geneva men’s league throughout the year to stay sharp with basketball and as a team.
“Cary carried our team today,” Rader said.
The championship game featured a rematch from earlier in the day, as Rader, Marsh and Cary beat Ben Rand and his teammates twice for their only two losses in the tournament.
Rand, 27, of Sugar Grove, is an impressive 6-foot-7 and played Division I basketball at Iowa and Northern Illinois.
His team, unlike Rader and company, just put together their team in the week leading up to the tournament, and had no experience in the event before Saturday.
“We just kind of threw it together recently,” Rand said. “We thought it would be a great day to come out and enjoy Swedish Days.”
Marsh pulled the duty of checking Rand during the games and had nothing but praise for the big man.
“Our strategy was just not foul and basically let him score,” Marsh said. In the tournament’s rules, after six team fouls, each foul results in a point for the opposition.
The tournament, in its 21st year of running, ran three courts across Third Street across from the courthouse, and attracted crowds to watch basketball throughout the day.