A freshman, Isaiah Rivera was dynamic slicing his way through traffic to the hoop in the second half.

The Geneseo Maple Leafs boys’ basketball team had little varsity experience going into the season opener against a battle-tested Rockridge team on Nov. 21.

The experience on the Rockets side showed during a 53-50 victory over the Leafs in Geneseo.

However, Geneseo’s growth became more visible as the game progressed.

“I think we can gain a lot more out of that than the win was worth,” Geneseo Coach Brad Storm said. “The things that we didn’t do well, like defense and free throws, can be fixed, but I know we can build on the good things that were working for us and get even better.”

Left all alone on the wing, Geneseo’s Keaton Rice hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to give the Leafs a 50-48 lead with 1:26 remaining.

With the Leafs’ student section directly behind Rice, the gym erupted and Rockets Coach Toby Whiteman called a timeout to settle down the players.

Rockridge tied the game on the following possession with 1:04 remaining.

The Leafs had the ball in the hands of their best shooter in the lane, but the shot was too strong from underneath the basket.

After Geneseo tried to hold the ball for the final shot, the Rockets’ Gentry Whiteman pushed the ball to the top of the key and hit a dagger for the game winner with 2.8 seconds left.

“I thought there were a few instances where I thought their guys showed their game experience,” Storm said. “They went to the state championship last year and have a little bit of that moxie. Hopefully, we gained a little bit of that moxie from this game.”

Rockridge led 31-19 at halftime with the Rockets Carson Frakes scoring nine points in the final 1:20 before halftime.

A freshman, Isaiah Rivera was dynamic slicing his way through traffic to the hoop in the second half.

With the Rockets trying to protect the inside, Rivera began kicking the ball outside to shooters or players who would make the extra pass for a wide open shot.

Geneseo senior sharpshooter Anthony Bravata knocked down a 3 pointer to close the gap to two possessions with 4:16 left to play.

“I love working with Isaiah,” Bravata said. “He feeds me the ball, and I feed him the ball and it works out. We talk to each other well.”

Geneseo’s Jacob Pauley completed a three-point play with 2:48 remaining to get the Leafs in striking distance trailing 46-44.

Great ball movement in the second half led to good shot selection for the Leafs.

Bravata drained another 3 pointer to make it a one-point game with less than two minutes remaining.

However, the comeback fell short after Geneseo put themselves in too deep a hole early.

Inconsistent offense and a rash of fouls haunted the Leafs in the first half.

Geneseo was in the bonus (seven fouls) less than four minutes into the first quarter.