Survive and advance. Sounds simple but that is exactly what coach Phil Ralston and Geneva did while making a little team-history along the way.
Geneva trailed third-seeded Bolingbrook 43-32 going into the fourth quarter but rallied to score 34-points in the final quarter (including hitting 16-of-18 free-throws) en route to a stunning 66-63 victory in the Class 4A Plainfield East Regional final Friday night.
“We were not going to quit,” Ralston said. “We just had to go back to running our offense and running our sets and our kids did a great job of doing that down the stretch.”
Junior guard Pace Temple led Geneva (24-5) with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting while teammates Nate Navigato and Chris Parrilli added 21 and 14 points respectively.
‘We knew that if we could get the game down to 10 or eight in the last quarter that we would be in the game,” Temple said. “We had the heart and never gave up.”
Prentiss Nixon also scored a game-high 24 points for Bolingbrook while Gage Davis added 16.
A three-pointer by Temple gave the sixth-seeded Vikings and early 9-4 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter. However, Geneva would go scoreless for the next 5:34 and found themselves trailing Bolingbrook (21-6) 31-22 at the half.
A Davis three-pointer gave the Raiders its’ biggest lead of the game at 41-26 with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
“We were getting good looks and our pressure was really bothering them (Geneva) throughout most of the game,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We just missed some free-throws.”
A three-point play by Temple cut the Bolingbrook lead to 53-46 with 3:27 left in the game. Temple later followed with a basket that put the Vikings in front for good at 54-53 with two minutes to go.
“We were here last year and we just did not stop believing,” Temple said.
Navigato’s basket and subsequent two free-throws extended the Vikings lead to 66-63 with 2.4 seconds left. Prentiss Nixon’s last second desperation three from 30 feet out just missed as it banked off the rim and went out.
“It was a great turn of events,” Ralston said. “We put some pressure on them and they turned the ball over. It’s been 28 years since they (Geneva) have won a regional and nearly 51 years since they have had a team with this many wins.”