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David Copperfield had nothing on Geneva’s basketball team Friday night.
The Vikings did a marvelous vanishing act on St. Charles North star Quinten Payne, then relied on 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Nate Navigato’s outside shooting and the power game of center Connor Chapman offensively for a 51-40 Upstate Eight River road victory.
“Man, our kids played a great game,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “This might have been our signature game this year. I was very proud of the effort.”
It was high praise considering the Vikings won for the 10th time in 11 outings and are 4-1 in the UEC River. The Loyola-bound Payne not only failed to score the first half, he took zero shots thanks to a three-pronged defensive approach.
“We just tried to get the ball out of his hands,” junior guard Chris Parrilli said.
Parrilli denied Payne the ball in one defensive scheme. In another, the Vikings ran a triangle-and-two to try to take out sharpshooting Alec Goetz as well as Payne. In another, they played man-to-man.
Payne wound up with just six points, three coming in the final 45 seconds of the contest, and Goetz went scoreless the second half after hurting Geneva with nine first-half points.
“I thought they were able to grab and hold Quinten quite a bit,” North coach Tom Poulin said. “I don’t know what they finished with but I think just seven or eight fouls the entire game.
“They were very physical, set some physical screens and you have to try to battle through that. And we were very screenable tonight.”
Navigato scored a game-high 18 points, including 11 in the first half when the Vikings seized command. A 13-3 run at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second put Geneva up 20-11, and the lead held steady until Payne’s first basket — a three-pointer with 2:41 left in the third quarter. Two free throws by Justin Stanko cut it to 31-28.
Geneva answered with a 10-0 run to close the quarter and start the fourth quarter. The Vikings defense held St. Charles North (6-4, 3-2) without a point for a total of seven minutes and 43 seconds to salt away the win.
“Certainly Payne has had good games against us in the past,” Ralston said. “That was kind of our philosophy tonight. We wanted someone else besides him to beat us. I hate to say it but sometimes gimmick (defensive schemes) work.”
North settled for outside jumpers much of the game and shot 25 percent from the floor in the second half (6-of-24), including 4-of-17 in the fourth quarter. North had no second-half two-point field goals. Kyle Swanson led North with 10 points.
Offensively for Geneva, Chapman had 12 points, while Parrilli had seven points and seven rebounds to go with his standout defense on Payne. The Vikings hit 16 of 33 shots (48 percent).
“It was the polar opposite of our Elgin game defensively,” said Poulin, whose team had routed Elgin 67-36 Saturday.
GENEVA 51, ST. CHARLES NORTH 40
Geneva (10-1, 4-1)
Mike Trimble 2 0-2 5, Pat McCaffrey 1 0-0 2, Connor Chapman 5 2-3 12, Chris Parrilli 1 4-6 7, Nate Navigato 4 8-10 18, Jason D'Amico 2 1-2 5, Kyle Brown 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 15-23 51.
St. Charles North (6-4, 3-2)
Alec Goetz 3 0-0 9, Quinten Payne 2 0-0 6, Tony Neari 2 0-0 6, Kyle Swanson 4 1-1 10, Thomas Ryan 0 0-0 0, Justin Stanko 2 4-4 9. Totals 13 5-5 40.
Geneva 18 8 11 14 -- 51
St. Charles North 11 7 10 12 -- 40
3-point field goals: Geneva (4) -- Trimble 1, Parrilli 1, Navigato 2. St. Charles North (9) -- Goetz 3, Payne 2, Neari 2, Swanson 1, Stanko 1.