GENEVA – Chris Parrilli listed the handful of zone defenses the Geneva boys basketball team used against Larkin on Friday night.
Employing a base 1-2-2, the Vikings also rotated a 2-1-2 “buzz” and 1-3 “chase” in a bid to rattle the Upstate Eight Conference River Division leaders.
Parrilli’s assessment of how the Royals fared summarized Geneva’s 59-55 loss simply enough.
“We just wanted to throw some different things at them, catch them off-guard, see what they were ready for, and they handled everything pretty well,” the senior guard said. “So you’ve got to give credit to them.”
Larkin (9-1, 5-0 UEC River) led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and trailed only once, 2-0. Geneva (8-3, 3-2) threatened to pull ahead on several occasions down the stretch. Larkin seemingly had an answer each time.
Loudon Vollbrecht’s put-back of an offensive rebound brought Geneva to within 49-48 with 3:36 to play. The Vikings were down, 47-39 entering the final quarter.
Moments after the Vollbrecht play, Royals senior Taylor Boley flashed open on the right baseline and swished an open 3-pointer.
“We just knew that we could get almost every shot we wanted whenever we wanted because of the way that we rotate and we move the ball on offense,” Boley said.
Classmate Andrew Jones proved virtually unstoppable from the floor in the first half en route to a game-high 20 points, going 5 for 6, including a perfect 3 for 3 from distance. His running, pull-up 3 a few paces from the top of the key to beat the halftime buzzer provided a 31-24 lead and re-affirmed the Royals weren’t in Batavia anymore.
Six days removed from drilling no 3-pointers in a game they rallied to win against the Bulldogs, Larkin connected on eight treys Friday, including seven in the first half. An uneven performance in Thursday’s win at Elgin served as motivation for many players, namely Jones.
“We didn’t play well as a team, I didn’t play well at all individually, and I just wanted to redeem myself and just have a big game,” Jones said.
Geneva and Larkin needed some 27 minutes of real time to complete a first half in which referees whistled just eight combined personal fouls – none in the first quarter.
After the break, the Vikings still limited the Royals in penetration and under the basket. Trouble was, Larkin was on its way to shooting 50 percent (21 of 42) from the floor. Geneva actually was more efficient at 53 percent (23 for 43), but its struggles from long range (2 for 10) added up, too.
“We need to get a little bit more consistency out of some of our posts, but they’ve been doing a nice job, by and large,” Vikings coach Phil Ralston said. “I really didn’t feel like overall we played poorly. They just hit shots, and we had breakdowns.”
Larkin’s Brayden Royse snagged a key offensive rebound after freshman Christian Negron missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with Larkin holding a 54-52 lead with just less than a minute to play.
Boley hit four free throws in the final 26.3 seconds to finish with 13 points and join Jones in double figures.
Geneva’s Nate Navigato and Pace Temple tied for the team high with 13 points. They and the rest of their teammates will aim to stay in the UEC River Race until the Vikings visit the Royals Feb. 14.
“We gave it all we had, but we know what we’ve got to work on for next time, and it’s going to be another great one at their place,” Parrilli said. “So we’re excited. Just got to work on the little things.”