To those on the outside, a matchup between Geneva and Glenbrook South would look like just another game on the schedule.
For those involved, it wasn't at all.
It especially wasn't considering the glowing mutual admiration and respect Geneva coach Scott Hennig and Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston have for one another.
The game, a 54-47 Glenbrook South victory on Dec. 30, was the first time Ralston faced his ex-assistant and former team.
Ralston left Geneva in May after nine seasons and a 193-77 record to take the reins at Glenbrook South. His longtime staffer of eight seasons Hennig, boys varsity assistant since 2014, took over head coaching duties shortly after.
"It wasn't the game I wanted to be honest," Ralston said. "I have too much respect for the kids and Scott."
Added Hennig: "The way I approached it – And I think Phil did too – We just focused on 'it's about the kids.'
It's not necessarily a secret both teams utilize similar styles of basketball – with Geneva perhaps playing slightly up-tempo. For Geneva junior forward Reilly Waldoch, the game came down to which team could grind out more on offense to break the defense on the other end.
"It was for sure different," Waldoch said. "We were for sure ready for that game. Our problem recently is coming out too slow."
The Vikings corrected the ship in a close 58-53 victory over Elgin on Jan. 4, and now look ahead to some tournament action for the Martin Luther King Tournament primarily at Lake Zurich. Then, conference schedule beefs up with St. Charles East (Jan. 19) and Batavia (Jan. 26) on the immediate horizon.
"We've got a lot of basketball left. We're off to a pretty decent start. We're gonna take it one day at a time," Hennig continued.
Ralston, meanwhile, has the Titans on the upswing. Glenbrook South won just nine games last year, but already has six this year with five of its last six.
Knights lose twice: Following a 50-36 consolation championship victory at the Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights (5-10) fell to both Zion-Benton Township 60-50 on Jan. 3 and Rochelle Township 86-73 on Jan. 5. Blake Feiza scored 17 points to lead the Knights, while Luke Brost chipped in 15 points against Rochelle.
Marmion: The Cadets (8-9) had a quiet week until a road test vs. St. Francis DeSales on Jan. 6, a 66-53 victory.
Burlington Central: The Rockets (12-2) extended their win streak to nine, beating Woodstock Jan. 6. Zach Schutta scored a game-high 22 points – 20 coming in the first half. Patrick Mayfield followed with 21, 15 in the first half.