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Quick Read

Quick read: Saints 'get out and run'

St. Charles East senior guard Evan DiLeonardi (12) scored 13 points in Wednesday's Class 4A St. Charles East Regional semifinal victory against Geneva.
St. Charles East senior guard Evan DiLeonardi (12) scored 13 points in Wednesday's Class 4A St. Charles East Regional semifinal victory against Geneva.

ST. CHARLES – A banana-suited member of St. Charles East’s Orange Fever student section surveyed the gym with his binoculars during a second-quarter timeout.

Five seats away, a counterpart dressed as The Cowardly Lion looked on. A couple of rows behind them sat The Cat in the Hat – sans whiskers and hat – doing the same.

Chaos crept no closer than the bleachers during the first half of Wednesday’s IHSA Class 4A St. Charles Regional final. Armed, albeit, with a far different cast than last season’s state tournament qualifier, the Geneva boys basketball team channeled the precision and poise of vintage 2014-15 for most of the first 16 minutes.

Then the third quarter started, and the Saints responded as if someone repeatedly was chanting “BO-RING!” whenever they held the ball. The final margin – East 48, Geneva 45 – stayed in big scoreboard lights well after the game went final.

Getting there, though, wasn’t exactly like watching paint dry.

“We just had to pick up our pace, and that opened up a lot of looks for us, and that ended up getting us the shots we wanted,” East sophomore forward Justin Hardy said. “Then we were able to overcome the deficit.”

Geneva held a 22-17 lead at halftime, but that was before Saints senior guard Evan DiLeonardi began turning fans’ heads and the Vikings’ torsos.

Asked about his impact, DiLeonardi smiled and made his most passive move all night. He shrugged his shoulders.

“I mean, I’ve played soccer my whole life, so that kind of helps on the basketball court,” DiLeonardi said. “I don’t know. I just like an open floor. I like to get out and run. That’s my favorite part of basketball, right there.”

The Saints split their Upstate Eight Conference River Division meetings with the Vikings, and even Geneva conceded East’s improvement during the regular season stretch run.

Vikings junior guard Matt Johnston, who also showed his quickness in blocking a 3-point attempt and dribbling behind his back to control a fast break, felt Geneva missed its chance to seize and maintain early control.

“We had a lot of opportunities to put away the game,” Johnston said. “And, you know, East is a really good team. They hit a lot of good shots, and Evan DiLeonardi is one (heck) of a player. They just were hustling all night.”

DiLeonardi’s scoring drives to the hoop punctuated sequences that began at the other end of the floor. He’d corral a rebound himself or take a pass from a teammate. Then he’d bolt.

“Evan can go coast to coast on anyone, anytime,” Hardy said.

It even extends to drills.

“Every down-and-back we do, Evan’s first if not ahead of all of us by half a court,” Hardy said.

The Saints will get a day of practice before facing top regional seed and reigning UEC River champ Batavia in Friday’s regional championship.

Naturally, there was no hesitation on any Saint’s part to address the anticipation. Most Orange Fever members who rushed the court at the final buzzer stuck around to visit with their muses after they emerged from the postgame locker room.

“I love having home court for the regionals,” DiLeonardi said. “It’s awesome. They come out every game, they’re loud, they’re yelling at the other team. It’s nice. … It’s just a good environment.”

Geneva’s Blue Crue wasn’t shabby, either, especially when the Saints went to the free throw-line.

“I’m sad to see the season end so short, but it’s a good team to lose to,” Johnston said. “That’s a great team, East.”

And a fast one.

• Kevin Druley is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinDruley.

ST. CHARLES – A banana-suited member of St. Charles East’s Orange Fever student section surveyed the gym with his binoculars during a second-quarter timeout.

Five seats away, a counterpart dressed as The Cowardly Lion looked on. A couple of rows behind them sat The Cat in the Hat – sans whiskers and hat – doing the same.

Chaos crept no closer than the bleachers during the first half of Wednesday’s IHSA Class 4A St. Charles Regional final. Armed, albeit, with a far different cast than last season’s state tournament qualifier, the Geneva boys basketball team channeled the precision and poise of vintage 2014-15 for most of the first 16 minutes.

Then the third quarter started, and the Saints responded as if someone repeatedly was chanting “BO-RING!” whenever they held the ball. The final margin – East 48, Geneva 45 – stayed in big scoreboard lights well after the game went final.

Getting there, though, wasn’t exactly like watching paint dry.

“We just had to pick up our pace, and that opened up a lot of looks for us, and that ended up getting us the shots we wanted,” East sophomore forward Justin Hardy said. “Then we were able to overcome the deficit.”

Geneva held a 22-17 lead at halftime, but that was before Saints senior guard Evan DiLeonardi began turning fans’ heads and the Vikings’ torsos.

Asked about his impact, DiLeonardi smiled and made his most passive move all night. He shrugged his shoulders.

“I mean, I’ve played soccer my whole life, so that kind of helps on the basketball court,” DiLeonardi said. “I don’t know. I just like an open floor. I like to get out and run. That’s my favorite part of basketball, right there.”

The Saints split their Upstate Eight Conference River Division meetings with the Vikings, and even Geneva conceded East’s improvement during the regular season stretch run.

Vikings junior guard Matt Johnston, who also showed his quickness in blocking a 3-point attempt and dribbling behind his back to control a fast break, felt Geneva missed its chance to seize and maintain early control.

“We had a lot of opportunities to put away the game,” Johnston said. “And, you know, East is a really good team. They hit a lot of good shots, and Evan DiLeonardi is one (heck) of a player. They just were hustling all night.”

DiLeonardi’s scoring drives to the hoop punctuated sequences that began at the other end of the floor. He’d corral a rebound himself or take a pass from a teammate. Then he’d bolt.

“Evan can go coast to coast on anyone, anytime,” Hardy said.

It even extends to drills.

“Every down-and-back we do, Evan’s first if not ahead of all of us by half a court,” Hardy said.

The Saints will get a day of practice before facing top regional seed and reigning UEC River champ Batavia in Friday’s regional championship.

Naturally, there was no hesitation on any Saint’s part to address the anticipation. Most Orange Fever members who rushed the court at the final buzzer stuck around to visit with their muses after they emerged from the postgame locker room.

“I love having home court for the regionals,” DiLeonardi said. “It’s awesome. They come out every game, they’re loud, they’re yelling at the other team. It’s nice. … It’s just a good environment.”

Geneva’s Blue Crue wasn’t shabby, either, especially when the Saints went to the free throw-line.

“I’m sad to see the season end so short, but it’s a good team to lose to,” Johnston said. “That’s a great team, East.”

And a fast one.

• Kevin Druley is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinDruley.

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