Boys basketball: Hudson Kirby powers Geneva win over St. Charles East

Geneva’s Hudson Kirby (25) rebounds the ball against St. Charles East's Marco Klebosits (3) and Bradley Monkemeyer (32) during a basketball game at St. Charles East High School on Friday, Feb 9, 2024.

ST. CHARLES – Some dogs score and rebound rather than bark and bite.

Geneva 6-foot-5 junior Hudson Kirby is one of them.

Behind his big effort against St. Charles East on Feb. 9, the Vikings ran past the Saints 53-37 in DuKane Conference action.

Kirby scored 17 points and pulled down 15 rebounds and Jack Hatton scored 20 points as the Vikings spoiled Senior Night in St. Charles.

“He’s just the dog,” Hatton said of junior teammate Kirby. “He’s always on the boards. Even when all four of us aren’t, he’s down there, he’s there getting three, four offensive rebounds (he had seven total) and getting hacked and still finishing at the rim. He’s just a dog.”

Kirby led a defensive effort that surrendered only five points in both the second and third quarters.

“And he’s blocking shots, too,” Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. “We ask him to do so much. I think he’s been outstanding all year. I think the thing that’s so impressive is his playmaking ability. People see the points, the rebounds and blocks, but it’s like having a point guard at 6-5 out there.

“He does all those little things and probably one of the things that I’m most proud of with him is he’s receptive to coaching. He’s open to being coached, constructive criticism, he just wants to get better. He wants us to win and wants to get better and that’s rare for a 16-year-old kid. It’s a credit to him.”

Geneva (15-12, 6-7) trailed 12-11 after one quarter as the Saints rode the energy of the night’s festivities and early 3-pointers from seniors Jake Vrankovich and Jake Greenspan.

“We got off to a great start and I’ve never had to second-guess their effort,” Saints coach Rob Klemm said. “I love our guys, I love our seniors, I just wish we could’ve gotten the job done for them tonight. Thankfully, they get another chance. We’re hosting regionals.”

St. Charles East (8-19, 1-12) was led by juniors Brad Monkemeyer (10 points) and Gavin Szerlong (7 points).

Szerlong’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter gave the Saints a 15-12 advantage, but the Vikings answered with 14 straight points, including a sequence in which Hatton scored five points in less than 10 seconds.

“I missed a free throw and he [Kirby] got the board, of course, and I think I went downhill and got in and scored and then Dave [Turner] got a steal,” Hatton said. “I thought he was going to lay it up but he didn’t and I scored there and they called a timeout and from there we just kind of pulled away.”

Kirby followed Hatton’s personal 5-0 run with a brilliant tip-in of his own miss with 1:03 left in the first half to make it 26-15.

Geneva crushed the Saints in the rebound battle 39-20 primarily because of Kirby.

“He did a great job,” Klemm said. “He’s a leading contributor. They just dominated us on the boards today. He was a big piece to that and he does a great job attacking and finishing around the rim. He played a great game.”

As great of a game as he played, Kirby was disappointed with how the Vikings started, but not how they finished in earning their fourth straight win while handing the Saints their fifth straight defeat.

“We just didn’t have enough energy in the beginning, but once we figured that out, we were all over the boards scoring and getting in transition,” Kirby said. “I thought it was just a good team win.”

Call it gritty winning.

“A huge part of the winning streak is grit,” Kirby said. “We want to be the grittiest team and get all the 50/50s. That’s what [taking] that charge was about [with three minutes left in the third quarter and leading 35-20]. I knew I would have a harder time blocking the shot even though I like to block shots.”

Turner added five points and six rebounds. Brady Kafka scored a basket and collected seven rebounds.

“[Kafka] loves to hustle and that’s what we need,” Kirby said. “We need someone like that.”

Hennig, who lives in St. Charles, knew the Saints would play them tough.

“I love the community of St. Charles and they have a lot of pride here,” he said. “Rob’s doing a nice job. His kids are playing hard. They’re battling some injuries, too, but St. Charles East, they’re competitors. They work hard. They’re active on the glass, they’re physical defensively. We knew coming in here that this was going to be a difficult game. It’s a credit to what they’re doing.”