Geneva caps own MLK tourney by downing Hampshire

Geneva’s Jack Hatton and Hudson Kirby played old-school basketball on Monday night.

In the eighth and final game of the fifth annual MLK Day of Hoops at Geneva High School, Hatton and Kirby capitalized on the Vikings’ superior height advantage over Hampshire.

Hatton and Kirby combined for 21 of Geneva’s first 25 points against Hampshire.

The Vikings seized control of the game by pounding the ball inside on the way to a 49-33 win over Hampshire.

For the Vikings, the victory is another step in the right direction following a sluggish start. The Vikings (9-9) have won four games in a row. Hatton scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half, while Kirby added 10 first-half points to finish with 16 points.

“We knew we had a height advantage, so we knew we had to just take control right out of the jump,” Kirby said. “On every play, we just tried to pound the ball inside. It’s a new team and a new year. We’re on a big winning streak and want to keep it going. I just tried to take the ball inside on every play.”

Hatton added several key baskets in the paint to go along with a pair of steals. The Vikings only made one 3-pointer in the blowout home victory, repeatedly sending the ball inside for layups.

“Coming into that game, we knew we had a big height difference,” Hatton said. “The game plan was to pound it inside because we had the height advantage. Hudson going to work and me also going to work in the paint really helped dominate the game, so the threes didn’t really matter because we got the ball inside.”

Geneva coach Scott Hennig said his team followed the game plan to near perfection. The Vikings shot 10-of-14 on free throws and pushed the pace to score several baskets in transition.

“I thought we had an advantage (inside), but I give our guys credit for following the game plan,” Hennig said. “Hampshire is physical, but once we were able to get into the offense, I thought we did a good job getting the ball to Jack and Hudson in the post. I thought we also got some second-chance points. We didn’t shoot it great…I was proud of us offensively and thought we did some good things defensively.”

The Whip-Purs (9-10) were looking to nudge over the .500 mark, but despite a solid start from the perimeter, they came unglued in the second quarter. Hampshire scored nine points in the first three-plus minutes, but Geneva’s defense held them to 17 points over the next 25 minutes until emptying the bench. Hampshire made four 3-pointers, but never recovered from a slow start in the second quarter. Adrien Ugochukwu led the Whip-Purs with 12 points.

Hatton put an nice cap on the big victory, stealing a pass at halfcourt and racing in for a right-handed lay-in and adding a free throw for a three-point play that padded the lead to 49-26.

“I feel overall we weren’t ready to play, and I’ll take the blame for that,” Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. “We came out flat. We weren’t ready to play. They made a run at us, and we put our heads down instead of fighting. Tonight the fight was not there. We had some open looks in the third quarter, but we didn’t hit them. Credit to (Geneva), they were the aggressors all night.”

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