Geneva senior Jordan Vedder’s alley-oop dunk on Friday seemed to come out of nowhere. The Vikings were in the midst of a fantastic run to open the second half of the game against rival Batavia. But up to that point there hadn’t been any hint of showtime, just solid ball movement and teamwork. The slam was something that the team had been working on.
“We were doing it so much that [Geneva coach Phil Ralston] told us to knock it off actually, in practice,” Vedder said. “I gave [Sean Chambers] the finger up, he tossed it and it went down. Kinda sealed off a great win.”
The Vikings beat the Bulldogs 52-38 in Geneva. The dunk capped off a 13-0 burst that opened the third quarter and seemed to take the wind out of Batavia.
“We knew we had to come out with energy in the second half,” Vedder said. “It was huge, we are all real happy with how we performed.”
Geneva (20-5, 6-3 Upstate Eight River) shot 19-for-29 and out-rebounded Batavia 36-19. The Vikings played like a team worthy of the Super 25 rankings, which isn’t something many would have expected at the start of the season.
Vikings big man Loudon Love-Vollbrecht tore his ACL on the last play of Geneva’s football season. At that point it looked like the school’s basketball season had gone up in flames. Love-Vollbrecht was the Vikings’ top returning player, a 6-7 300-pound force that helped lead them to a fourth place finish in Class 4A last season.
“Loudon is a huge loss,” Geneva point guard Matt Johnston said. “He was the main focus of our offense in the summer. We had to bounce back. I think the seniors really stepped up, Bennett Fuzak especially, he’s been shooting lights out.”
Fuzak led the way against Batavia (17-8, 8-1) with 13 points and six rebounds. Johnston scored seven points and had a game-high eight rebounds. Vedder, Chambers and Brandon Schleicher each added seven points.
The Vikings have played through injuries to several key players this season. They were without Fuzak and Chambers for a month.
“I think those experiences have made us a better team,” Ralston said. “For the month we were without [Fuzak] we had to rely on scoring from other areas. When we were without Sean we had to find other guys that could step up and shut down the other team’s best player. I think as a result of the adversity we are a better team.”
Chambers’ task on Friday was to guard Batavia’s sharpshooting guard Canaan Coffey. He held him to just 13 points. The total gives Coffey more than 1,000 points in his career.
“[Chambers] did a great job on Coffey,” Johnston said. “We just had so much energy [after the dunk]. That really pushed us in the second half. This game had a lot riding on it. We tried to stop Canaan from getting 1,000 but congrats to him, that’s a big milestone.”
Batavia shot 11-for-46, and shot an alarming number of air balls on three-point attempts.
“We started prepping a lot earlier because it was Batavia week,” Johnston said. “All the guys can score on the team, we are all threats offensively. And tonight we just had a lot of energy on the defensive end.”