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Geneva boys basketball aims to end regional title skid

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:07 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 7, 2014 2:39 p.m. CST
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(Lathan Goumas - lathangoumas@shawmedia.com)
Geneva's Mike Landi and Plainfield East James Claar go after a rebound during the second half of an IHSA Class 4A Plainfield East Regional semifinal Wednesday.

A long-anticipated milestone awaits the Geneva boys basketball team should it defeat Bolingbrook in tonight’s IHSA Class 4A Plainfield East Regional championship.

The Vikings have not earned a regional title since the 1985-86 season, and turning the trick tonight definitely would cue some shouting.

Players insist they will keep an even keel no matter what happens. On Wednesday, at least, they got a dress rehearsal for any potential bedlam by closing out the host Bengals in a tight game.

“I mean, it’s really loud in this gym, but I think we did a good job of listening to coach and being able to execute our plays well,” Vikings senior point guard Cam Cook said.

It’s hard not to notice Geneva coach Phil Ralston’s active style or hear his attention-grabbing whistles no matter the venue.

The Vikings thought they might be under Ralston’s guidance for at least one more postseason round in March 2013. As it happened, a tense Wheaton Warrenville South Regional final against West Aurora went the other way in a game the Vikings led as late as the 6:25 mark of the fourth quarter.

The loss served as partial fuel throughout a season that now finds the 23-5 Vikings as the school’s winningest team since the 1962-63 club earned a state berth. Most of the team’s nucleus has played a major role in the current run, which boosts their morale entering tonight.

“I just think our chemistry has gotten so much better over the years,” junior guard/forward Nate Navigato said. “We’ve just been playing so well together and we understand each other and we know what we need to do.”

See you there: St. Charles East missed South Elgin in Upstate Eight Conference crossover or tournament play during the regular season. The programs will meet for a regional title on neutral ground at St. Charles North tonight.

The Storm advanced by upsetting top-seeded Larkin, 71-70, in overtime Tuesday as the Royals played without leading scorer Kendale McCullum, who was suspended for violating a team rule. The Saints were among those looking on.

“I was surprised,” East junior forward Mick Vyzral said. “We all went to the game, and we were really surprised. ... South Elgin came out to play. They just brought intensity. It was a really fun game to watch.”

Saints coach Pat Woods came away impressed with South Elgin and claimed the result didn’t surprise him, citing a number of close results against strong teams.

“They play with a lot of energy, so we’re going to have to come out and match that energy,” Woods said.

East showed its was game in that regard Wednesday, beating the host North Stars by 15 in their semifinal.

• Sports editor Jay Schwab contributed to this report.

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