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Boys basketball: Geneva lets fourth quarter lead slip away

Updated: December 27, 2012 11:11PM

If Geneva would have lost to defending Class 3A state champion Peoria Central by five points in the flow of the game, perhaps the sting wouldn’t have been so great.

But the way it went down in the second round of the 47th annual East Aurora Holiday Tournament Thursday was tough for the Vikings to swallow.

Geneva was up by nine points early in the fourth quarter and held a four-point lead with 3:03 left, only to see Peoria finish the game on a 9-0 run and steal the win, 54-49.

“We had the door closed on them,” Geneva sophomore Nate Navigato said. “It was that close to us shooting free throws and pulling away. We made a couple mistakes and they capitalized on it and got right back in it. We felt like we had it under control. At the end there, I didn’t know what was going on. It’s not a good feeling.”

The game was tied at 37-37 late in the third when Geneva’s Pat McCaffrey drilled a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter. Navigato started the fourth with a three-point play, followed by four points from Chris Parrilli. All of a sudden, the Vikings (11-3) were up 46-37 with 7:13 left.

But Peoria (3-6) put together a quick 8-0 run to cut the lead to one. Geneva hit three free throws to make it 49-45 with 3:03 left, but the Vikings would never score again. Geneva turned it over four times and only managed one field goal attempt in that span. Consecutive steals and layups from Colby Duckworth and Eric Johnson tied the game and gave the Lions the lead and they hung on for the win.

“You know, we were right where we wanted to be,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “We just didn’t get it done. They threw everything including the kitchen sink and we just didn’t respond to it. Obviously we’re disappointed in how it happened. Don’t let it happen again, learn from this. You can’t let it happen again.”

Navigato led the way for Geneva with 20 points. Parrilli added 11 points. Myles Boone led Peoria with 20 points, with Eriq Baird adding 13.

The Vikings have dropped their first two games of the tournament, against unbeaten Neuqua Valley and a defending state champion in Peoria. They face Aurora Central Catholic Friday in the third round.

“We played two teams in back-to-back games that are as good as any team we’ll see on our schedule and we went toe-to-toe against both of them,” Ralston said. “We’re this close to being able to take the next step, but we need to have guys that are going to be a little more focused.”

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