Between a 10-plus minute drought without a field goal to start the game against St. Charles East and an inability to dictate the game's tempo the way the Vikings prefer, Friday's game was hardly vintage Vikings basketball.
Further hardship came in the form of foul trouble for Vikings senior center Connor Chapman, who fouled out of the game late in regulation, and major turnover struggles.
Despite all that, Geneva was in position to win the game, taking the Saints to double overtime. Geneva even had a short-lived three-point lead in the last minute of the first overtime.
"I thought our kids did a lot of things well [Friday night], but we've got so much room for improvement," Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. "When you look at that area for improvement that we have, it just shows you how much [room for growth] we have.
"If we're able to play games like this and not really be in synch and be as good as we could be – hopefully we still have enough time to figure it out."
In terms of the Upstate Eight Conference River race, the Vikings (15-5, 6-3 UEC River) could still share for the conference title if they win their last three conference games – which include a home game against Larkin on Feb. 8 – and if East drops at least one of its final four conference games.
Starting lineup shuffle
St. Charles East's frequent tweaks to its starting lineup continued Friday when East opened the game with a bigger lineup that included David Mason, Tyler Windau and Ben Skoog starting together in the frontcourt.
The latest, new-look lineup moved athletic forward A.J. Washington to the bench, where he excelled as a high-energy sixth man early in the season.
Jokingly asked if he could envision having the same starting lineup two games in a row, Woods said "probably not, honestly."
"A lot of different kids have opportunities, and a lot of them are stepping up," Woods said. "I thought Tyler was great again tonight.
"We have a consistent two with Cole (Gentry) and Dom (Adduci) and, after that, it's been kind of a revolving door, but that's fine. It keeps kids in-tuned, too, in practice."
Sophomore guard Jake Asquini could be the next Saint to push for a starting spot if he keeps shooting like he has lately, including a 19-point night with five 3-pointers in Friday's win against Geneva.
"He's a great shooter, that's why he's out there," Woods said. "He does it all the time in practice. He's able to drop them down if you give him some space. He's a really good free throw shooter. He's just young. It's just going to be a process with him and (James) McQuillan."
Something to build on
Marmion was naturally disappointed about losing a last-minute lead in Tuesday's loss at St. Francis but the Cadets were still encouraged to play so well against one of the Suburban Christian Conference Blue powers.
Marmion's hot start in the game was somewhat reminiscent of the Cadets' earlier home game against Wheaton Academy, another loss in which Marmion jumped out to a big, early lead.
"St. Francis and Wheaton Academy are where the bar is at in our conference, and they're both in our regional," Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said. "I'm proud of the way we fought. We've shown we can stay with them. We didn't close it out but we may see them again later on."
IN THE GROOVE
Johnathan Harrell, Aurora Christian, Jr., G
What he did: Harrell drilled a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer on Friday and give Aurora Christian a 54-53, home upset of Suburban Christian Conference Blue rival St. Francis. He had 14 points on the night.
Matt Limbrunner, Kaneland, Sr., F
What he did: Limbrunner led Kaneland in scoring in a pair of recent wins. He tallied 22 points in Saturday's victory against Sterling and had 12 in the Knights' win Tuesday against Sycamore.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Defending co-UEC River champion St. Charles North looks like it will be dethroned.
The North Stars dropped their second straight UEC River game on Saturday, losing at Larkin, to fall to 4-4 in conference play – two games in the loss column behind Larkin and St. Charles East. North will try to get on track with home games Friday against Batavia and Saturday against East.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How Batavia responds to what surely will be an emotional night Saturday at Batavia's 20th annual Night of Hoops.
At about 7:15 p.m., before Batavia faces De La Salle in the Night of Hoops nightcap, Batavia plans to honor former coach Jim Roberts and his wife, Sylvia, in a pregame ceremony. Going forward, the Night of Hoops will be officially named the "Jim and Sylvia Roberts Night of Hoops."
Jim Roberts, who stepped down after 26 season this spring for family health reasons, started the annual Night of Hoops tripleheader 20 years ago.
COACH SLY SAYS
Good thing there are no Vegas lines on high school games because these UEC River games would probably make the line-makers loony.
St. Charles East loses twice to Larkin but beats Geneva twice, so of course Geneva beats Larkin. Makes all the sense in the world, right? Similarly, Batavia recently smoked Geneva by 22 points, then gets thumped at home by the same Larkin team that Geneva recently beat on the road.
And the statute of head-scratching limitations hasn't quite expired on lowly Streamwood beating first place Larkin to start the conference season.
It all makes for a quirky race with lots of twists and turns that seems to be as much about matchups and state of mind as talent.