ST. CHARLES – Guards Dom Adduci and Cole Gentry conspired on a handful off ooh- and ahh-inducing moments for St. Charles East boys basketball fans Saturday night.
Those stretches aside, they still were left to ponder an Upstate Eight Conference River Division loss to Geneva that seldom was close.
If the Vikings couldn't be perfect in a 67-49 road victory, they approached something similar in limiting Adduci and Gentry to 21 combined points and a collaborative 9 for 23 effort from the field.
"They kind of got control. They played their tempo," Gentry said. "So then we're chasing 10 points early and we're playing their tempo. Trying to get up and down, but they're not letting us."
Geneva (17-4, 6-3 UEC River) remained mathematically alive in the conference race by pestering the Saints' top scorers. A 41-15 rebounding advantage paid dividends, too.
When Adduci and Gentry shared the floor, the Vikings played a 3-2 zone. When either player was out, Geneva coach Phil Ralston called for the 1-3 "chase," which Gentry likened to a box-and-one.
"What makes it effective is they don't really touch the ball as much," Geneva senior point guard Cam Cook said. "They're getting less looks. They've got to give it to other players on the team. So we try to take their best player out and let the other team go to work for them."
Considering reserve guard Jake Asquini scored eight points to match Adduci – Gentry had a team-high 13 – mission accomplished.
East (12-10, 6-4) struggled to 7 for 22 shooting in the first half. The team remained in single digits until a Gentry layup with 3:22 left before halftime gave the Saints their 10th and 11th points.
Geneva's student section also joined in the fun, chanting "WE CAN'T SEE YOU!" at its East counterparts late in the first quarter on camouflage night.
The Saints' frustration surfaced moments later. Referees whistled East forward AJ Washington for a technical foul early in the second quarter after he taunted Chris Parrilli upon blocking his 3-point attempt from the right baseline.
Geneva's Nate Navigato scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the first half. His final offensive contribution, a dunk with 6:06 to play, sent the bench and Vikings backers into a frenzy.
Geneva otherwise strived to keep a low-key approach to the game. Ralston credited assistants Rob Wicinski and Scott Hennig for hatching the idea to "make it a business trip," especially on the heels of East's 67-51 win at Geneva in mid-December.
The team switched its pregame routine around and beelined for the bus shortly after the final whistle, as if scurrying to catch a flight home.
Mike Landi (13 points) and Pace Temple (12) also finished in double figures for the Vikings, who have struggled with the Saints in recent seasons. Landi often capitalized on a handful of Geneva's 19 offensive rebounds, while Temple struck largely in transition.
"We were just fluid today," Cook said. "We really had everything going for us."
The Saints had the opposite lament. Coach Pat Woods took the blame for the slow start, as he started East in a little-used 2-3 zone with an eye on diversifying the team for the postseason.
Larkin, 9-0 in the River, clinched at least a share of the conference title Saturday and knocked off East for the second time Thursday.
"We're just not together yet offensively – today," Woods said. "We've had glimpses of it in the past, obviously. We've put a lot of points on the board. But again, some of that flow is stimulated by our defense, and we didn't have that today."
Gentry and Co. felt the team lacked something else.
"We're disappointed. We don't think we had enough pride tonight," he said. "Because Geneva is a neighboring town, that's a game you want to win no matter what your record is, what time of season it is. At this point, we've got to keep improving, keep getting wins and then move onto regionals."