GENEVA – Geneva was able to hold off upset-minded Downers Grove South during the final game of Monday’s Third Annual MLK Day of Hoops, 53-51.
The Vikings led 53-49 after Mick Lawrence missed the second of a one-and-one with 9.9 seconds left, but all the Mustangs could do in the waning seconds was get a put back from Justin Sveiteris just before the buzzer sounded.
“I thought out kids responded,” Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. “I thought we hit some timely threes. I thought Chris (Suger) stepped up after losing Max (Jensen) with his ankle (injury). I was really proud of the group effort.”
Downers Grove South (1-10) opened the second half on a 14-0 run to turn a 31-23 halftime deficit into a 37-31 lead.
Sveiteris was able to score inside on three occasions during the run while Nate Waterman had a three-pointer sandwiched between a Sveiteris put back and a nifty move and lay-in.
“It’s credit to our guys, our record doesn’t show it, but they’re buying in and they’re getting better,” Mustangs first-year coach Zach Miller said. “They believe in getting better every single day and leave it all out there every game. Unfortunately we’ve lost (some) games by just a possession and again we’re just so close, but it’s a credit to Geneva. They mad ea few more winning plays than we did tonight and I told our guys we just have got to find a way.”
Suger’s three-pointer with 3:41 left in the third quarter was Geneva’s first points of the second half.
Geneva (11-9) proceeded to close the quarter with a modest scoring run and then opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from Jimmy Rasmussen to take a 47-41 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We stopped turning the ball over and we started hitting some shots,” Suger said. “We started playing calmer and the game just came to us. Mick (Lawrence) and Jimmy (Rasmussen) both hit shots. Ryan (Huskey) hit a couple shots and we got back into the game.”
Lawrence and Suger led the Vikings with 16 and 14 points each, respectively, while Rasmussen and Huskey each pitched in with eight points apiece. Hayden Vostal, Tommy Diamond and Adam Van Rensburg totaled just four points between them, but without them who knows if Geneva would’ve had enough to hold off the Mustangs.
“Hayden (Vostal) and Tommy (Diamond) are great sophomores and they stepped up tonight,” Suger said. “Hayden got the dunk and they got several steals and rebounds and were physical bodies in the paint. Adam (VanRensburg) played a position he normally doesn’t play and played well.”
Charles Shaw scored 15 points off the bench for the Mustangs while Sveiteris had 14 and Waterman scored 11.
“We’ve got to find a way to make one more winning play and I feel like if we can do that as a group collectively, then this outcome would’ve been a little bit different,” Miller said. “We’re starting to understand what we want and our identity and this culture. We’re finally seeing some of those dividends, but we just got to find a way to dig down more and limit turnovers that go pick-6 the other way.”