Call's clutch again in St. Charles East's win over Geneva
Steven Call is building a reputation for hitting clutch shots.
After all, it's his second in the last three games for St. Charles East.
Call hit the game-winning layup against Wheaton Warrenville South on Jan. 31 to hand the Tigers their first DuKane Conference loss in nearly two years.
He had a follow-up act ready to go to help the Saints earn their first win against Geneva since Feb. 7, 2019.
With Geneva storming back and within two points after Tanner Dixon's layup with 2:56 left, Call was able to patiently shake loose for a crucial 3-pointer to stabilize the Saints, who led by as much as 17 in the first quarter and saw that lead slowly drip to just two by the late fourth quarter.
"It was big. We just kept moving the ball around. I was the open guy, so I just knocked it down," Call said on the pivotal 3-pointer following the Saints' 50-43 victory Wednesday. "I just keep shooting with confidence and I knocked it down."
Call finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
The upswing in his shot-making ability appears to be a welcomed shift for Call, who battled a bit of a dry spell in the weeks prior and following the holiday tournaments.
"He started off the season hot and then he went through a little bit of a spell and I feel like he's got his legs under him now," St. Charles East coach Pat Woods said. "He's really confident."
"I like driving [to the basket] more. Driving kind of builds up my confidence to knock down the outside shots," Call said on the slow part of his season. "It was constantly attacking [that brought me out of it]. I don't think there was one specific moment. I think it was just multiple games."
Roughly 50 seconds following Call's momentous shot, Brad Monkemeyer added another 3-pointer to give the Saints an eight-point cushion with 1:48 left. Geneva forward Tommy Diamond missed two free throws and Saints guard Drew Clarke was able to convert a layup the opposite direction.
Geneva had one final push. Standout Mick Lawrence hit a 3-pointer and Jimmy Rasmussen eventually cashed in on a layup, plus the ensuing free throw on the foul to pull Geneva within 47-43 with 51 seconds left.
Saints guard Jack Borri missed a 1-and-1 and Call was able to convert 3 of 4 free throws within the last 33 seconds to preserve a victory for the Saints and exact a bit of revenge on a 59-50 loss to Geneva two weeks ago.
"We talk about playing 32 minutes all the time. We're still not there yet, clearly, but it's more of a mentality we need to get better at," Woods said. "It's been a long time since we got Geneva. We're happy to get them. If you look at the second half of conference [play], other than against Lake Park [on Jan. 20] we [earned wins against] Wheaton Warrenville South, Glenbard North, who got us earlier, and now we got Geneva. So, heading in the right direction come playoff time, which is good."
Clarke had 13 points, while Borri finished with nine points. Monkemeyer had six points for the Saints (12-15, 6-6).
The start on Wednesday for the Saints, though, was just as important as their finish. St. Charles East trailed 5-2 early and ripped off a 20-0 run that sustained until 6:42 in the second quarter. All five Geneva starters had at least one foul by that point, and the Vikings collectively struggled with turnovers and missed shots.
"We charted. We missed seven free throws, we were 4 for 17 from 3. We had some pretty good looks and then, I don't know if they're all traditional layups, but we missed 18 shots near the rim [for the game]. So, I asked the kids, 'If you're not going to make layups, you're not going to make 3s, and you're not going to make free throws, how are you supposed to win?" Geneva coach Scott Hennig said.
Rasmussen had 12 points and five rebounds, while Dixon and Lawrence both finished with 10 points. Diamond had five points and six rebounds for the Vikings (22-6, 8-4).
"I thought the defense was good - 50 points, in the middle of the second quarter with Tanner and Mick on the bench [with foul trouble] it was 27-9 or something," Hennig said. "So, I don't know if it's a lack of focus. We've got a veteran group, so if they can't be focused for a rivalry game, I can't do anything about that."