GENESEO -- The Maple Leaf seniors weren't going down without a fight.|
Playing in their final game at Geneseo High School, the six seniors all stepped up to close out the Northern Illinois Big 12 season with a win, defeating Dixon 55-49.
From Austin Frank's double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, to Grant Burress' clutch free throws to seal the win, to Jordan Starkey's team-high 14 points, to Ethan Reschke's rebounds and assists, all of the seniors contributed.
Off the bench, Jake Scott, Nathan Yager and Jordan Reschke played crucial minutes, helping the Leafs to their 10th win of the season against 15 losses.
More importantly, the Leafs finished 5-5 in the NIB-12 West Division finishing third, two spots higher than they were expected to finish.
The Leafs won by dominating the paint. Frank led the way, but Geneseo finished with 31 rebounds to Dixon's 13. At halftime, Dixon had only pulled down four boards.
"We knew we were going to have a size advantage and, to tell you the truth, I think we could have got it down there even more," Geneseo coach Brad Storm said. "We made plays to finish the game, which a week ago we didn't do."
Geneseo seemed in control until late in the third quarter. Dixon's Matt Coffey drained back-to-back treys and opened the fourth to pull within 3.
The Leafs responded by getting an old-fashioned 3-point play from Frank, but then went scoreless the next four minutes as Dixon slowly marched back.
Again, leading only by three and with just 49 seconds to play, Grant Burress calmly buried a pair of free throws to keep the Dukes at arm's length. In the waning moments, Starkey put a cap on it with a slashing layup, cementing the win.
"We had our heads in the right spot," Frank said. "Toward the end it got a little too close, but we kept it together and were confident."
For the Leafs, it was a nice way to end the regular season.
"We showed some maturity tonight, and we were determined not to let it get away from us," Storm said.
Dixon had a great outing by Cal Jarrett as the sophomore guard ended with a game-high 23 points.
Luke Snyder ended with 12 for the Leafs, and also pulled down five rebounds. Drew Himmelman continued to impress, pitching in five points in limited minutes.
Geneseo will face Alleman in the first round of the 3A Galesburg Regional on Monday.
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