Batavia didn't come back from Saturday night's trip to Quincy with a victory but first-year coach Jim Nazos still was more impressed by his squad than he had been in Friday's loss at Geneva.
Quincy is known for having a major homecourt advantage, a reputation the host Blue Devils reinforced in their 50-42 win against the Bulldogs.
"The atmosphere might be one of the best in the state of Illinois – it may be the best," Nazos said. "It was very hostile, especially because the game was very close there, too. I didn't like the way some of the calls went down the stretch, but you know how that goes."
Batavia led for much of the game and was within three points of Quincy, with the ball, in the final 1:25 of the game.
Quincy (4-1) entered the game averaging about 64 points a game, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig. Considering the Blue Devils' high-scoring tendencies, Nazos was heartened that the Bulldogs limited Quincy to 50.
"I thought defensively we did a lot of nice things here tonight, and probably four or five of those points were fouls at the end, free throws, so I think we are making some strides defensively, and I thought we did some things better offensively tonight than we did [against Geneva]," Nazos said. "I think we're headed in the right direction as a team."
The 2-3 Bulldogs will have a high degree of difficult in snapping their two-game losing streak. Batavia welcomes highly regarded Waubonsie Valley on Friday before visiting Larkin on Saturday.
Aurora Christian will be without one of its top players for a crucial Suburban Christian Conference Blue matchup today against defending champion Wheaton Academy.
Junior guard Johnathan Harrell, one of the Eagles' chief threats, suffered a concussion in the late stages of Friday's game against St. Edward, according to Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara. Harrell will not be allowed to participate in games or contact drills until at least Saturday, according to McNamara.
McNamara was also unsure about the status of starting point guard Ryan Suttle for tonight's showdown in Aurora. Suttle spent time in the hospital during the weekend dealing with a skin condition.
Tonight is a crucial game for the Eagles, who are coming off the Burney Wilkie tournament title last week and are hoping to contend, along with Wheaton Academy and St. Francis, for the SCC Blue title. Aurora Christian visits St. Francis on Saturday.
St. Francis fans thinking about making the trip to the Quad-Cities on Jan. 26 are encouraged to book a hotel room through the Stoney Creek Inn at 309-743-0101. Mention that you are with St. Francis High School to book your room through the school's block.
St. Francis is playing Rock Island Alleman at 4:30 p.m. at Wharton Field House in Moline. The game is part of a unique tripleheader featuring three Wheaton teams (St. Francis, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South) against three Quad-Cities teams (Alleman, Rock Island and Moline).
IN THE GROOVE
What the Knights did: Struggling with its own offense on Friday against Morris, the Knights stayed afloat by limiting Morris to no more than eight points a quarter after the Redskins scored 13 in the first. Ty Carlson's dramatic put-back gave Kaneland its first win of the season, 32-31.
Wheaton Academy, So., G
What he did: Ruggles canned six three-pointers on Saturday en route to scoring a team-high 23 points as Wheaton Academy improved to 5-1 with a lopsided win against Chicago Christian.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
St. Charles East isn't going to be on cruise control all season.
Impressive as the Saints were in winning their Thanksgiving tournament the week before, Larkin gave East plenty to work on after the Royals stung the foul-prone Saints on Thursday, 61-53.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How long Geneva can keep its own hot start rolling.
The 7-0 Vikings have a pair of Upstate Eight Conference River contests looming this weekend, including a marquee matchup Friday at St. Charles East. The Vikings will then host Elgin on Saturday.
COACH SLY SAYS
If Larkin beating East last week told us anything, it's that this is probably going to be another year where the River champion has at least three or four losses.
There aren't any really weak sisters in the conference (Batavia, Elgin and Streamwood aren't exactly tomato cans), which means teams will be beating up on each other throughout the season.
Despite East's loss, Sly still considers the Saints the early favorite, though Geneva will have a chance to have its say on that subject Friday night.