AURORA – The Geneva boys basketball team accomplished something Thursday it had not been able to do since the first game of this month – win the first quarter.
The Vikings jumped to a 23-7 advantage after the first eight minutes against Oak Lawn in the opening round of the East Aurora Holiday Basketball Tournament.
Geneva never relinquished the lead to win the contest, 63-36.
“Our one emphasis today was, that since we last played Batavia earlier this month, we have not won the first quarter,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “We needed to jump out early. I thought our focus was pretty good in that sense.”
After exchanging baskets in the opening minute of the game with the Spartans, Geneva scored the next nine points to take a 12-2 lead.
The squads swapped two more buckets to make the score 14-7 before the Vikings went on to score another nine unanswered points to end the quarter.
“Our team has got to come out with a greater sense of urgency at the beginning of the game,” Oak Lawn coach Jason Rhodes said.
The game was more balanced in the second quarter as Geneva only increased its lead by a point, 34-17, by halftime.
The Vikings (9-3) came out sluggish in the second half while the Spartans mounted a rally. A layup by David Stacy (12 points) with 1:48 left in the third quarter pulled Oak Lawn (1-5) within 39-27.
“We ran our sets well except for that five-minute stretch in the third quarter,” Ralston said. “I think that is the first third quarter we came out looking flat.”
Geneva’s Nate Navigato stopped the rally by sinking the next three baskets, including two 3-pointers to end the quarter with the Vikings ahead, 47-27. The junior led all scorers with 25 points.
“We were hoping to cut it [Geneva’s lead] to under 10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, then it could have been a different ball game,” Rhodes said. “But Navigato hit those two big 3s at the end of the quarter.”
“We kind of let down as a team for very brief spurt but we then pulled together,” Navigato said about the start of the second half.
The Vikings outrebounded the Spartans, 32-24, and had eight steals.
Navigato and teammate Chris Parrilli ran into each other as they both went after a loose ball at the start of the second half. Parrilli suffered a bloody nose as a result of the collision and sat out part of the third quarter. The senior still managed to score 11 points and grab eight rebounds.
“Both Nate and I were crashing the boards hard,” Parrilli said. “I went up and his elbow came down and hit me across the nose.”
Senior guard Cam Cook added seven points for Geneva. Mitch Swatek led Oak Lawn with 13 points.
Geneva faces Hubbard at 4 p.m. today in the second round of pool play.