Dunks-and-D lead to victory

Chris Steele
Isaiah Rivera finishes a fast-break dunk during the Maple Leafs’ victory against Morris.

The Geneseo boys’ basketball team earned a victory against Morris and were defeated by Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference front runner Ottawa.

Morris at Geneseo

Isaiah Rivera raced down the floor for a fast-break dunk to give Geneseo a lead and deflate Morris as time expired in the first quarter.

The Maple Leafs’ defense made sure Geneseo would never relinquish the lead on their way to a 55-37 victory at Geneseo High School on Feb. 1.

A junior, Rivera’s dunk before at the end of the first quarter handed Geneseo an 11-10 lead.

The Maple Leafs’ rock-solid defense took care of the rest.

Geneseo outscored Morris 18-0 in the second quarter to build a 29-10 lead by halftime.

“The defense in the first half is the best defense I think we have played all year,” Geneseo Coach Brad Storm said. “We found guys, communicated and cause problems for the offense. I was thrilled with the way we played in the first half. We held them to 10 points, and Morris can score points. We weren’t giving them any easy looks.”

Coming off a school-record 51-point game, Rivera continued to be in full command of the court scoring a game-high 27 points and adding five rebounds.

To start the second quarter, Geneseo’s Jacob McConnell found P.J. Moser with a pass in the paint for an easy score on the Leafs’ first possession.

“We talked about before the game how defense was going to win us the game,” McConnell said. “We knew we could outscore them as long as we didn’t let them have second chances and 3-pointers.”

Rivera set the tone on defense snatching a pair of lazy passes and scored easily in transition to expand the lead to 17-10.

Following a Morris timeout, the Maple Leafs showed their range.

A freshman, Geneseo’s Anthony Pierce knocked down a 3-pointer and McConnell drained a 3-pointer to make the lead 27-10.

“With a young team, when these young guys get confidence it just keeps building and building,” Rivera said. “Our record at the beginning of the year doesn’t really matter at the end of the year its about getting wins.”

With the victory, the Maple Leafs have won six home games in a row at home with five NIB 12 Conference victories.

Geneseo finished the game 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the game.

Rivera’s hustle trailing a fastbreak allowed him to jam home a tip-in dunk with 38 seconds remaining to lift the Leafs to 29-10 before the half.

A Moser 3-pointer put out any thoughts of a comeback in the second half, and McConnell scored nine points in the second half.

McConnell finished with 15 points, and Moser tallied five points.

Kade Ariano scored three points and added three rebounds, and Tim Lehman scored two points and grabbed two boards.

“The fact that those guys are coming in and feeling more confident and scoring gives us an extra dimension to our team,” Storm said. “Teams can’t focus on Isaiah when other guys are knocking down shots.”

Ottawa at Geneseo

After being upset by DeKalb, the Maple Leafs felt the wrath of Class 3A ranked Ottawa at Geneseo High School on Feb. 2.

The Pirates snapped the Maple Leafs’ six-game home winning streak with an 89-57 victory.

Ottawa poured in points from the opening tip leading 51-28 by halftime.

Rivera had another star worthy performance making 7-of-11 from the floor and finishing with 28 points, and McConnell tallied 10 points.

The Maple Leafs made 7-of-10 from 3-point range with Rivera and Moser each making three from beyond the arc.

Geneseo’s Moser finished with nine points, and Ariano scored four points.

The Leafs’ Nathan VanDeWoestyne, Joseph McConnell and Lehman each scored two points.