PLAINFIELD – For three quarters Friday night, the Bolingbrook boys basketball team was in control of the Class 4A Plainfield East Regional championship game. But the Raiders never quite put away an underdog Geneva club and the Vikings made them pay with a tremendous 34-point fourth-quarter explosion to pull out a 66-63 victory.
The Vikings sure did their first regional championship since 1985-86 right. Next up: Wednesday’s East Aurora Sectional semifinal against West Aurora.
Geneva entered the fourth quarter trailing, 43-32, and still trailed by 11 with less than five minutes to play. But a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Chris Parrilli (14 points) started the Vikings on a 16-2 run in a span of 2:29.
“I thought we put a little pressure with the press on them and they kind of panicked,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “When they went into panic mode, our kids capitalized on it.”
Junior guard Pace Temple scored seven of his game-high 24 points during the run and also came up with a key offensive rebound that led to an old-fashioned 3-point play by 6-foot-7 forward Mike Landi.
“We just never stopped believing and never stopped fighting,” Temple said. “I just love my guys and never had a doubt with them. I knew we had the heart. It was just a matter of getting some shots to go and getting some rebounds to pull it out.”
Bolingbrook finally snapped the Geneva run with a pair of free throws by talented junior Prentiss Nixon (23 points) with 1:47 left in the game, pulling the Raiders back to within one point at 56-55. There was a wild scramble for the basketball on the Vikings’ ensuing possession, but Temple finally came up with the ball and found Nate Navigato for a jam. Navigato then hit six straight free throws down the stretch – the last two with 2.4 seconds remaining.
“We just showed a ton of heart,” Navigato said. “We were down 11 in the fourth … and we just came back, shot our free throws, made them, and it was just an awesome victory.”
The Raiders (21-6) still had a chance to tie with a 3-pointer, but Nixon’s desperate try from just inside the half-court line bounced off the front of the rim after hitting the glass.
Navigato finished with 18 points and five rebounds. The Vikings (24-5) were able to win the battle on the boards, 33-29, in part thanks to nine rebounds by 6-7 sophomore Loudon Vollbrecht.
It was Geneva’s first regional title in 28 years.
“This is incredible,” Temple said. “Now moving on, if we’re down, it doesn’t matter. This is one of the best upsets and best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of.”