Boys Basketball: Geneva overpowers Elgin in 3OT
Updated: December 2, 2011 10:35PM
It didn’t take long for Elgin to find out how difficult defending its Upstate Eight River title will be.
Missing three key players, Geneva took Elgin into three overtimes Friday and overcame a four-point deficit with 1:20 remaining in the third overtime to upset the Maroons 66-64 in the conference opener for both teams.
The Vikings (2-3, 1-0) won the homecourt victory when senior guard Mark Becker completed a three-point play out of a timeout with 1:06 left, senior guard John Swiderski sank two free throws after an Elgin turnover against Geneva’s press, and Becker sank a free throw with 1.8 seconds left after Elgin’s Kory Brown had traveled trying for the winning shot.
“Even at the darkest moment, when it was 64-60, they executed the exact plays we asked them to execute,” said Geneva coach Phil Ralston. “We did stuff tonight that I had not seen a Geneva team do since I’ve been here in a sense of executing on a dime after our timeouts.”
Becker’s three-point play came on a driving layup after a timeout and on a play Geneva hadn’t run in a long time. It came after Elgin had gone ahead 64-60 with four points thanks to a technical foul call against Geneva’s Connor Chapman for unsportsmanlike conduct following a foul call on Swiderski.
“Coach had to draw that play up for us out of the timeout,” Becker said. “Coach told me to go to the hoop, and that’s what I did.”
After Becker completed the three-point play, Ralston called for a press that Geneva likes to run -- but hadn’t all game. It resulted in an Elgin turnover near midcourt and Swiderski got fouled during the scramble for the loose ball. He sank both free throws for a 65-64 lead.
“Not having shown that the whole game, you could tell that it rattled them a little bit,” Ralston said. “They may have practiced that whole week for it, but when the chips were down they hadn’t seen it all night.”
Elgin star senior Brown, held to 10 points through regulation, wound up with 15 and had the chance to regain the lead but couldn’t fight through a double team with 1.8 seconds left, and traveled. I gave Becker the chance to make 1 of 2 free throws. A desperation Elgin shot by Arie Williams (team-high 21 points) along the baseline with a second left didn’t fall as Elgin lost for the first time in five games.
“They had a game plan to box and one and slow us down and hold the ball and spread us out,” Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. “We had a game plan to attack that but they executed their game plan better than we did.”
Geneva’s big men, Chapman (12 points) and Drew White (10 points) kept Elgin from getting inside most of the night. Meanwhile, Geneva got a game-high 22 points from Brendan Leahy, but Elgin held him to two points total in the three overtimes.
“In a 50-second possession, we played great defense for 45 seconds tonight,” Sitter said. “We didn’t close out.”
Free throws cost Elgin. In the second half and the first overtime, the Maroons had gone 0-for-9 from the foul line before regaining the touch.
“We’re shooting 66 percent at the line,” Sitter said. “It is what it is. We also shot a lot of jumpers. We settled for jumpers instead of trying to get to the rim. That’s on us.”
Brown missed a free throw on a chance for a three-point play with the score tied at 48 and a minute left in regulation, and neither team got off another shot. In the first over time, Brown hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to tie it and Geneva turned the ball over as the horn sounded with the score 53-53. Brown turned it over in the second overtime on the last possession as he tried to get off the winning shot with the score tied at 55.
Geneva played without point guard Phil Lorenz due to a broken finger, Mike Trimble due to a broken hand, and Ben Rogers due to a college visit.
“Elgin is one heck of a team,” Ralston said. “We knew that we were a little beleaguered in here without two starters, three players who are going to be playing a lot for us. We did what we could to try to negate their strengths and playing to ours.”