Boys Basketball: Tanner Dixon, Thomas Diamond lead Geneva past Glenbard North to 14th straight win

Geneva's Tanner Dixon

CAROL STREAM – A year ago, Tanner Dixon and Thomas Diamond played completely different roles for Geneva’s basketball team.

Now, after another year of experience, Dixon and Diamond have been instrumental in helping the Vikings build one of the best winning streaks in the Chicago area.

Against Glenbard North in DuKane Conference play Jan. 20, Dixon and Diamond provided another example of their worth to the Vikings, combining for 29 points in a 68-52 victory.

The Vikings (18-3, 6-1) extended their winning streak to 14 in a row by overwhelming the younger Panthers (13-9, 3-5) with their all-around play, high percentage shots, precision passing and defensive rebounding.

Dixon, a senior forward, scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to help turn a tight game into a double-digit victory. Diamond, a junior center, scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Michael Lawrence finished with 14 points, Jimmy Rasmussen had 12 and Kalen McNeive hit a pair of 3s in the second quarter to end with eight points for Geneva.

Dixon said the Vikings turned up their intensity a notch in the second half after leading 24-23 at halftime.

“I thought we had a lot to improve on from the first half, so I thought we came out in the second half ready,” Dixon said.

The 6-foot-3 Dixon said he’s a different player from last season, gaining confidence in the offseason and hitting the weight room. He played strong against the athletic Panthers, attacking the basket for lay-ins and playing tough defense.

“My game took a huge step up because of the added strength, which really gave me confidence and helped me hit shots,” Dixon said. “I didn’t even play last year, so this year has been my favorite season so far. I just tried to come out and play my role. I’ve grown a lot from last year.”

The 6-3 Diamond fueled the Vikings in the fourth quarter by scoring consecutive baskets in the first few minutes.

“My teammates found me and I got to the open spot and Mick Lawrence found me and I was able to get easy baskets,” Diamond said. “I got a lot of open looks and I was right there ready to score.”

Diamond, like Dixon, said he’s happy to become a regular contributor for one of the hottest teams in the area this season. The Vikings haven’t lost since a 40-33 setback against Wheaton Warrenville South on Dec. 7.

“Last year, I would come off the bench five or 10 minutes a game, play defense and wasn’t really confident with the ball or scoring,” Diamond said. “This is really fun now this year. This is the most fun I’ve had playing basketball.”

Geneva coach Scott Hennig said the entire rotation contributed to the road victory, but noted the improvement of Dixon and Diamond.

“I thought we got the ball inside, a lot of easy ones,” he said. “Tommy was a monster in the second half, just catching and scoring. Tanner and Thomas have shown a lot of growth. They both were on the varsity last year. Thomas is a physical player and he competed on the glass. Tanner had a good game. Jack Hatton did some nice things, was active on the press and got some steals. It was a great team effort.”

Glenbard North coach Kevin Tonn praised the Vikings and noted the solid play of his team, which started two freshmen and a sophomore. Junior JJ Hernandez was a terror on the offensive end, torching the Vikings for a game-high 25 points. Sophomore guard Jack Schager found the gaps in the Vikings’ defense to nail five 3s for 15 points.

“[Geneva] did a great job of rebounding tonight, and that was tough,” Tonn said. “They executed down the stretch, but we battled. That’s a good team. It’s nice to see our offense start to click a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing us put a full game together with our offense and defense. We competed tonight. I’m happy with that.”