Matthew Johnston (0) of Geneva drives against Larkin. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Unbeaten Geneva sparkles in solid win over Larkin

SHARE Unbeaten Geneva sparkles in solid win over Larkin
SHARE Unbeaten Geneva sparkles in solid win over Larkin

Geneva seniors Cole Navigato and Matt Johnston each threw down dunks in the Vikings’ 80-68 victory against visiting Larkin on Friday.

That’s a regular occurrence for the two seniors. The Vikings are 23-0, so almost everything has gone their way this season. But there is one thing they are still waiting on.

“So far Cole and I are the only ones dunking,” Johnston said. “We are still waiting for Dom [Navigato] to put one down in a game.”

The Navigato brothers dominated the boards against the Royals. Cole, 6-5 forward, finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Dom, also a 6-5 forward, had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

“Cole is a load,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “He doesn’t look like much but the kid can play every spot on the floor. That is a dangerous person to have in the lineup.”

Johnston is the Vikings’ x-factor. He’s sneaky athletic and can do a bit of everything on the floor. He had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“It’s a lot of pressure being undefeated because we are getting everyone’s best shot,” Johnston said. “At the same time it’s so much fun having these kind of intense games. The crowd was great and Larkin is a great team. We finished that off real well.”

Things were close until the fourth quarter. Dom Navigato made two three-pointers and Cole Navigato had a three-point play in an 11-2 run that gave Geneva control of the game.

Foul trouble played a major role in the game. Jalen Shaw, Larkin’s promising 6-10 junior, picked up a technical foul for dunking in warmups and then had two fouls early in the game so he spent the majority of the first half on the bench.

Shaw never got going. He finished with nine points and five rebounds. Junior Anthony Lynch led Larkin (12-11, 3-5) with 20 points.

“One of the key adjustments [at halftime] was to make sure we were going at Shaw,” Ralston said. “We knew that he had three fouls. [The technical] was kind of a shame. I didn’t actually see it happen, but I trust that the referees did.”

The Vikings (23-0, 8-0 Upstate Eight River) played a terrific all-around game. Two sophomores, Jack McDonald (21 points) and Mitch Mascari have been starting all season. That’s very rare for a team that’s undefeated in late January.

“We are teaching [the sophomores] a lot, but they are real good,” Johnston said.

Geneva has plenty of challenges left this season. The Vikings have rivalry games against Batavia and both St. Charles teams. They play at Quincy, one of the toughest venues in the state, on Feb. 18.

“There isn’t anything to do but try to enjoy [being undefeated],” Ralston said. “There’s no pressure. We told the kids we aren’t worried about the record. That’s something for when the season is over, for them to talk about and enjoy. We are worried about conference and the best possible seed we can get in the sectional, because the sectional is a buzzsaw.”

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