Maple Leafs rally for first road win

Chris Steele
P.J. Moser, left, stops the ball during Geneseo’s victory against Orion.

Geneseo Coach Brad Strom challenged the Maple Leafs’ basketball team at halftime to turn things around.

The Maple Leafs took command of the game in the second half and stormed back for a 61-59 victory over the Cavaliers at LaSalle-Peru High School on Feb. 8.

“I thought we got better defensively especially in the fourth quarter,” Storm said. “We took away open shots they were getting before, we boxed out a

little bit better and we had guys step up in the second half.”

Trailing L-P 30-22 at halftime,

Geneseo rebounded with an inspired

effort outscored LaSalle-Peru 20-10 in the third quarter to take the lead to start the final period.

“I think it was important for these guys to understand, you need to play better on the road than you do at home to get a win,” Storm said. “I think it was good for us to see how playing on the road versus at home is different and you have to play differently.”

Storm saw the victory as a big sign of the Maple Leafs’ growth to earn their first conference road win of the season in comeback fashion.

After being held to just six points in the first half, Geneseo’s Isaiah Rivera caught fire scoring 28 points in the second half on his way to a game-high 34 points.

“He just wasn’t settling for what they were going to give him,” Storm said. “He was going to take what he wanted, and it was getting to the rim. It made a big difference.”

Getting strong scoring contributions from P.J. Moser (8 points) and Jacob McConnell (10 points) helped take the pressure off of Rivera.

A junior, McConnell has established himself as the second leading scorer on the team, and Moser has been continuing to make more-and-more of an impact on offense.

“I think it has started with him looking to be a scorer and going to the basket,” Storm said. “Once you see the ball go in that way, it becomes a lot easier to shoot your jump shots. Being more aggressive has been a big bonus for him.”

Anthony Pierce scored four points, and Kyle Traphagan knocked down a 3-pointer.

Geneseo’s Kade Ariano finished with two points.

During the final stretch of games, Storm said he wants to see Geneseo start executing the offense more crisply and battle for every loose ball during their final stretch of games.

“We need to be a little bit more physical,” Storm said. “We aren’t a big or strong team, so we have to use our bodies and get in better position defensively and to finish shots stronger.”