By ANGELO VELOTTA
For the Star Beacon
The South Rebels put up a case for the defense to regain momentum in a win at Geneva on Friday night.
The Rebels pulled away for a 74-53 win in the Premier Athletic Conference clash.
The game started off slowly for the visiting South (8-12, 7-6) in the all PAC game Friday, with good defense but not a whole of offense.
Geneva (1-19, 1-12) also was playing good defense and it allowed the Eagles to come back into the game in the first quarter and were trailing only 10-6.
But then South (8-12, 7-6) turned to its defense to cause Geneva to turn the ball over a lot, and with the upped pressure on defense, South went on an 11-2 run later in the first quarter to give South the first quarter, 21-8.
“I think Geneva came out and played tough. (Give them) a lot of credit,” South coach Roy Infalvi Jr. said. “(We played) too fast early on.”
“We need to be in game early to be successful, that was key,” Geneva coach Scott Torok said.
The second quarter started a lot like the first quarter ended up being, with South maintaining momentum. As the quarter went on the Eagles started to pull it together and were down 14 31-17. As halftime came, the Eagles continued to chip away and by intermission, trailed by only a 38-25 count.
Geneva slowly found its way back. Senior Vern Thompson found a nice little rhythm to start the third quarter and second half scoring 7-straight points to kick things off, and leading to an 8-0 Geneva run by Geneva well into the third quarter.
“In second half, (the) first three minutes were very important,” Torok said he stressed to his team. “(It was the ) best basketball we played all year.”
With 5 minutes left in the third quarter Geneva, was only down 5, 38-33, thanks to its senior finding a good rhythm and overall good team basketball with hustle.
“Vern is very opportunistic, he made good shots in rhythm,” Torok added.
Senior Thompson led the way for Geneva with a co-game high of 21 points, a co-team high of 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.
“A better effort,” Torok said. “Being in it is exciting.”
“We wanted to set tone in third quarter, Geneva set tone,” Infalvi Jr. said. “We had to calm down and regroup.”
And calm down South did. The Rebels returned to their roots with a rigid defense and went on another 11-2 run to end Geneva’s momentum. With exactly 2 minutes to play left in the third, South had a 14-point lead, 49-35.
“We don’t know what to do with success, they widened the lead,” Torok said of South again taking the momentum after Geneva’s great start after halftime.
“(Our) Achilles’ heel all year has been turnovers, we were right around (our) average, and points off of turnovers,” Torok said.
Geneva had 28 turnovers.
“We’ve won 6 of last 7 games, (with) more balanced scoring,” Infalvi Jr. said.
Senior guard Harry Chakirelis led the way for South with a co-game-high 21 points, a game-high 6 rebounds, a game-high 4 steals and 2 assists.
“For me, key was for D to do better,” Chakirelis said. “We came out sluggish.
“We play better uptempo. (I) took shots when open.”
Besides Vern Thompson’s big game for Geneva, senior David Smalley had a nice all-around effort with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
“David is capable of being a good floor man,” Torok said of his senior.
Junior Eric Juncker had 10 points for the Eagles and 4 rebounds.
Velotta is a freelance writer from Concord Township.