There will be more big games in big arenas for Division I recruit Nate Navigato, but this was one he won’t soon forget.
Dare we call it, Da Shot?
The Geneva junior drained a three-pointer from the wing with four seconds remaining Saturday at the United Center to beat Kaneland 54-51 in a non-conference game.
It came 10 seconds after Kaneland senior Tyler Carlson made a three-pointer to tie the game at 51-51.
“It’s called ‘clear,'” Navigato said of the final play drawn up by coach Phil Ralston. “We were gonna run it if they were in a zone or not. (Point guard) Cam (Cook) drives and gets as far as he can. If he can go to he rim he goes to the rim, if not, he dishes off for a three.”
Kaneland coach Brian Johnson switched to a 1-3-1 to give the Vikings a different look.
“I kinda felt it when I had the ball and it went in,” said Navigato, who finished with a team-high 20 points in the see-saw game.
He was hoping he made the shot from beyond the NBA three-point line but admitted he thought one foot was probably on the line.
“I think it was challenged, in fact, by two guys,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, it was by two 5-10 guys and he’s a 6-7 (future) Division I player. Nate made a big-time shot for them.”
It gave Ralston and the Vikings their fifth straight win and lifts them to 13-3 overall. Kaneland drops to 7-4.
Johnson, who had his team practice a day earlier on the larger college floor at Aurora University, saw his team trailing 20-19 at the half and fall behind 37-27 in the third quarter.
Geneva led by two when Knights’ senior point guard Drew David took an elbow to the mouth and had to come out of the game for several minutes while the trainer tended to his bloody lip.
The Vikings took advantage of several Kaneland turnovers and reeled off eight straight points but the Knights came back in the fourth, sparked by nine straight points from senior John Pruett, who finished with 16.
“Tyler (Carlson) is a difficult matchup because he can play the 4/5 and still come out and hit a three,” said Johnson. “And I’ve always thought highly of John (Pruett). Sometimes he doesn’t have the confidence he should, but he did a nice job for three quarters (defending) a D-I kid (Navigato).”
Navigato, limited to just two first-half points, hit nine-straight free throws in the second half and had a three-point play off a baseline spin move and drive with just over a minute remaining to make it 50-47.
The teams then traded free throws to set the stage for the final heroics by Carlson and Navigato.
“They came back from 10 points down to take the lead, but the silver lining is we had the poise to come back and get the win,” said Ralston. “This is a great experience for these kids, hopefully we’ll get more chances to play on big floors in the playoffs.”