Geneva handles Huntley to reach Dayton championshp
Employing a tenacious defense and utilizing its inside game, Geneva beat Huntley 47-42 in the second Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic semifinal game Thursday night in DeKalb.
Holding the Red Raiders scoreless for a long stretch in the second half and scoring 30 points in the paint advanced the Vikings to Friday night championship game against United Township. The East Moline school downed Rockford Guilford 54-48 in the first semifinal.
Geneva (10-3) last won the Chuck Dayton title in 2016.
Defending tournament champions Huntley (11-3) will face Rockford Guilford in Friday's third-place game.
The Vikings opened the game with back-to-back three-pointers but did not score another basket in the first quarter. Huntley's Noah Only scored eight of his game-high 18 points to put his team on top 11-7 after the first eight minutes.
Michael Lawrence, who sank Geneva's first basket from the left corner, finished the night with 12 points. Tanner Dixon (10 points) followed with another 3-pointer from the same spot.
Geneva found its inside game at the start of the second quarter. Thomas Diamond sank three straight baskets from close range to put the Vikings on top 13-11 at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter. Diamond, a junior, finished the night with a double-double, scoring a team high 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Huntley rallied to pull ahead 18-13. The Vikings responded with its own rally to take a 19-18 lead at the half. A Diamond basket with 48 seconds left to play in the half put Geneva back in front.
The Red Raiders retook the lead, 23-19 in the opening minutes of the third quarter, on two quick baskets by Only. That's when Geneva stepped up its defense, holding Huntley scoreless for the rest of the period.
The Vikings had a slight rebounding edge, 30-26, but it did force 16 Huntley turnovers with seven coming on Geneva steals. Senior Kalen McNeive earned three of them.
Geneva went on a 6-0 run to end the period and held a 29-23 advantage at the start of the fourth quarter.
Huntley ended its scoring drought 21 seconds into the fourth quarter on Ethan Blackmore's trey from the top of the key and pulled within 3 points, 29-26.
The Red Raiders found their offense in the fourth quarter, outscoring Geneva 19-18 but was unable to close the gap.
Lucas Grosby, Ty Goodrich and Blackmore all scored six points for Huntley.