Boys basketball: Luca Carbonaro, Max O’Connell steady Wheaton Warrenville South in win at Geneva

Wheaton Warrenville South's Max O'Connell (left) and Luca Carbonaro following their 45-35 win over Geneva on Friday, Dec. 1. Photo by Jacob Bartelson.

GENEVA – Luca Carbonaro has the appearances of already being in a midseason groove for Wheaton Warrenville South.

Carbonaro, the Tigers junior point guard, is back for another season leading his team. His athletic ability to break down defenses, hit deep 3-pointers and find teammates in tight passing lanes has not changed a bit. Given he’s the starting quarterback in the fall, it’s not unexpected.

Though, Carbonaro, who finished with 13 points, five points and three assists in the Tigers’ 45-35 victory over Geneva on Friday, is simply “letting the game come to [him].”

“I’m not trying to do everything and do everything like shoot too much. I’m just letting the game come to me and get my teammates involved first,” Carbonaro said. “That opens [things] up for me. Max [O’Connell] hit some turnaround shots, got to the free throw line. That really ultimately feels like I’m successful.”

O’Connell had a game-high 18 points and four rebounds to pace WW South (3-2, 1-0).

“I feel he’s really stepped up,” Carbonaro said of O’Connell. “We obviously lost a lot of [graduated production] this year, but I was not scared at all. I knew he was going to step up and he was going to do what he did tonight. It’s going to be a consistent thing for him.”

“He’s got a really high basketball IQ,” Carbonaro continued. “He knows where to go with the ball and he doesn’t turn it over much. He’s got a consistent shot and he’s a crafty scorer as well, so I just love playing with this man.”

O’Connell, who earned spot minutes for last season’s sectional semifinalists, scored five points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer, to help the Tigers jump out to a 13-4 lead to close the opening frame.

“I feel I’ve started off [the season] good,” O’Connell said. “My teammates have been a part of that. I can lean on Luca and I can lean on my other guys, so it gives me the confidence to catch the ball, turn around and shoot with confidence and know my teammates are going to [back me up].”

Of course, having Carbonaro to help deliver the ball at timely moments, certainly helps.

“It’s good to have a guy that can get us out of pressure; that can dribble and get us out of tough situations and find ways to get me the ball in the middle,” O’Connell said. “[He’s a] crafty passer.”

The Vikings (5-2) weathered a tough shooting first half and trailed 26-13 at the break. Carbonaro picked up his third foul to put him on the bench with five minutes left in the third quarter, but Geneva was largely unable to break through.

Geneva eventually pulled within 35-26 with 5:09 remaining after a Luke Matan layup and Gabe Jensen converted three free throws. O’Connell and Matan traded jumpers to make it 37-28 Tigers, but the Tigers were ultimately able to keep the Vikings at arms length through the free throw line late.

Vikings forward Hudson Kirby turned in a strong 15-point, nine-rebound and four-block effort to pace Geneva. Matan followed with 11 points and Jack Hatton had six points.

“We didn’t shoot it well. We hit some shots at the end, but took some tough ones. Credit to them. They make you take tough shots, ” Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. “I thought the start, overall, just wasn’t great. We lost Luca a couple times. He hit one really deep [three], but I thought the kids played hard...Typical Geneva vs. Wheaton South: A eight to 10-point game.”

“This was probably [Kirby’s] most complete game,” Hennig said. “I think he almost had a double-double. Well-done. Our game plan was to go into him and we did. He ended up with 15 points. Great game. We got to make a few more shots. We’re a possession or two away and we were right there.”