April 14, 2024
Illinois High School Sports

Boys basketball: Wheaton Warrenville South holds off Geneva in Class 4A regional semifinal

Tigers advance to face Lake Park after Geneva’s last-second 3 misses

Wheaton Warrenville South’s Luca Carbonaro shoots three points during a Class 4A Willowbrook Regional semifinal game against Geneva on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

VILLA PARK – After seeing several Geneva 3-point shots hit the bottom of the net in the second half, Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Healy held his breath as the buzzer sounded.

Geneva’s Luke Matan let a long-range shot go just before the buzzer sounded with a chance to erase an 18-point halftime deficit, but the shot fell short.

Wheaton Warrenville South found a way in its third matchup of the season against DuKane Conference foe Geneva to hang on to a 61-59 win at the Class 4A Willowbrook Regional semifinals.

Healy knew at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter how his team gets it done as long as there’s another practice tomorrow.

“Just get to tomorrow’s practice,” Healy said with a smile. “Just do enough to make sure that we can practice tomorrow. It’s not always going to be pretty, but we did enough to withstand [Geneva] shooting the [heck] out of the ball in the second half. We knew we just needed to find a way to make one extra play. At this point, we’re happy to get another one together, so you flush this one and move on.”

Wheaton Warrenville South (15-18) used an 11-0 run in the final 1:52 of the first half to build that 18-point halftime advantage – at 32-14.

Luca Carbonaro outscored Geneva by himself in the first half – scoring 16 of his game-high 27 points in before the break for the Tigers. That effort included knocking down five of his six 3-point attempts in the first half and made seven of nine attempts from beyond the arc for the game.

“I give all the credit to my teammates,” Carbonaro said. “They put me in great position to score. We had a great game plan of just moving the ball well. I got to my spots and got in rhythm early.”

“It doesn’t surprise us at this point,” Wheaton Warrenville South forward Brady Goken said of Carbonaro’s shooting performance. “Coach Healy always asks us if we’re OK with Luca taking those 25-foot 3s and we’re always good with it. We always have confidence he’s going to make them. He made a lot tonight and was a big reason why we’re moving on.”

Goken scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter as Geneva lost him cutting baseline after Carbonaro’s success from the outside pulled the Vikings defense away from the basket. The Tigers finished 7 of 11 from beyond the arc Wednesday night.

Geneva’s Jack Hatton and Dane Turner had enough of Carbonaro’s shooting heroics in the first half and took it upon themselves after halftime to get the Vikings (16-15) back into the game Wednesday night.

After cutting Wheaton Warrenville South’s halftime lead from 18 to 10 after the third, Turner knocked down three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to give Geneva life. Hatton, who finished with a team-high 19 points, knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the night to get the Vikings within three, at 58-55, with 1:31 left.

After making six 3-pointers over the first three quarters (on 15 attempts), Geneva made 6-of-14 3-point attempts in the final eight minutes.

Matan got a bucket and Brad Kafka had buckets in the final minute to get Geneva within one before Matan’s shot at the buzzer fell short to allow the Tigers to escape.

“I think you can look at a lot of things tonight, but I think you can look at some 5-50 plays that we didn’t come up with the ball,” Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. “They made some plays on those loose balls that you have to come up with in games like tonight. We also lost Luca a bunch tonight, which just can’t happen… especially when it’s the third time you have played a team this year. I give them a lot of credit. They made the plays when it mattered most.”

Junior Hudson Kirby finished with a double-double for Geneva with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the season-ending loss.

Max O’Connell reached double figures with 12 points for Wheaton Warrenville South, which advances to the regional championship game against the sectional’s top seed in Lake Park at 7 p.m. Friday.

Chris Casey

Chris Casey for Shaw Local News Network

Chris Casey is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local News Network, covering high school sports in DuPage, Kane, and McHenry counties