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posted: 1/30/2010 12:01 AM

Block, Geneva's bench step up at Yorkville

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With a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter at Yorkville Friday night, nobody could accuse Geneva coach Phil Ralston of waiting too long to get his bench in.

That's because Ralston had his bench in from the opening tip on.

With Nolan Block the lone Geneva regular in the starting lineup, the Vikings showcased their depth in a 51-36 victory.

"We lost a good bit of our scoring but that's been opening up opportunities for other players and they stepped up tonight," said Block, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter of a game Geneva never trailed.

"We're going to need that the rest of the season."

Geneva played without regular starters Brandon Beitzel (recruiting trip to Central Michigan) and guards Scott Wendt (ankle) and Will Doeckel (out for the season with mono). Dan Trimble (abdominal strain) scored 3 points in limited minutes off the bench.

Another top reserve Alex Frederking is out for at least a week with an Achilles tendon, while Michael Santacaterina (ankle) and Connor Quinn (hip pointer) returned Friday after missing time this month.

That is seven of the top eight in Geneva's rotation who have been sidelined within the last week.

"In 16 years of coaching I've never seen a team that is decimated this much," Ralston said. "For us to have survived and still be .500 this month is miraculous."

The Geneva bench came in and picked up where the normal starters left off. Senior J.P. Landry just missed a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds and had a breakaway dunk in the second quarter on a feed from Block.

"I just felt it and Nolan was looking up court. It was a great feeling," Landry said.

"It's good to get a couple other guys a chance to play but we need those guys who are out. They are a big part of the team."

Dan Hince, Brad Bernhard and Santacaterina joined Block and Landry in Ralston's makeshift starting lineup. They took a patient approach to build a 16-9 lead after the first quarter, then extended to a 31-15 halftime lead.

Hince scored 9 points, Bernhard had 7 points and 6 rebounds and Santacaterina chipped in 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists.

"I thought they did a great job," Yorkville coach Jerry Faber said. "They looked like they had been out there all year playing that way. I was real impressed with the way they played. They proved their bench is pretty strong."

Yorkville (6-13, 1-8) never got going, shooting just 23 percent of the field through three quarters in falling behind 44-22. Frustration set in during the third quarter when two players were called for technical fouls.

Geneva (14-6, 8-2) led 51-26 in the fourth quarter before the Foxes scored the game's final 10 points.

"I almost think we played almost a perfect game," Ralston said. "A lot of their possessions they were one and done. I think JP Landry and Brad Bernhard deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the job they did on the boards tonight."

Block led Geneva with 18 points and added 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

The Vikings return home tonight to play St. Charles East on Hall of Fame night at Geneva, with legendary St. Charles coach Ron Johnson among the three inductees.

Ralston, who said Beitzel might be back from his recruiting trip, is looking forward to seeing the Hall of Famer.

"I look forward to being able to speak to him," said Ralston, who said he briefly met Johnson once when "I was a much younger coach and St. Charles was very well known as a basketball power.

"Tonight was important for us with conference to stay in contention for it. (Saturday) is a Tri-Cities showdown and we want to play well with that game. I'm sure our kids will rise to the occasion."