Geneva and Cardinal came into a CVC crossover game shorthanded Dec. 6. Early foul trouble for both sides added another challenge.
The Huskies controlled the first half, but the Eagles battled back to tie it at intermission. They traded the lead throughout the second half and Geneva was ahead by two midway through the fourth.
That’s when the Eagles ratcheted up the intensity and pulled away for a 56-42 victory.
Geneva moved to 2-0 while Cardinal fell to 0-2.
Geneva was called for traveling on its first three possessions. Then several starters got into foul trouble.
Coach Eric Bowser didn’t sweat the rocky start. He was happy the players made the needed adjustments to rally back into the game.
“We have to stop turning the ball over,” Bowser said. “We were playing a little nervous at the start. We were playing from behind and couldn’t get the ball in the basket. Their coach had a great defensive strategy called. They were ready for us, but we needed to get the turnovers in check and have time to go over it the next few days.”
The traveling issues popped up again early in the third, but the Eagles were able to clean up on the boards to make up for those possessions.
Luke Barbo was one of the players in foul trouble. With Hayden Diemer and Luke Smith out with injuries, Geneva needed to turn elsewhere for scoring. Enter Caden Proy.
The sophomore had four points in the first half, plus six rebounds that generated extra possessions for the Eagles. In the second half, Proy found confidence in his shooting.
He finished with a team-high 19 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists to guide Geneva’s second half.
“We came out slow,” Proy said. “We knew that we needed to come out of the second half harder and find ways to get buckets. We had a lot of adjusting going into the first game and have continued to still find that handle with playing on a different rotation. We play our best when we don’t think though. We overthought a lot early and that changed in the second half.”
Geneva’s Donnie Shymske added 12 points off the bench.
Cardinal started the fourth down by five but quickly rallied. Cal Cimenello and Charles Soltis cut the lead to two.
But the Eagles put their foot on the gas in the latter half of the fourth. They ended the game on a 14-2 run with rebounding control and smart passing.
“We like to play with aggression,” Bowser said. “We feel like we’re a relatively deep team when we play aggressive, but we can’t do dumb things. A lot of those early fouls were us doing dumb things. Not staying on our feet, reaches when we shouldn’t. We put ourselves in bad positions and bad things happened because of it”
Troy Domen led Cardinals with a game-high 27 points and all 14 of the Huskies’ points in the first quarter. With a young supporting cast around him, coach Kyle Deckerd has asked his senior to carry the early load.
Domen led the team in assists and steals last year, as well as being the second-leading scorer.
“He’s the one guy for us that has the varsity experience,” Deckerd said. “He knows everyone is going to look to him and how he reacts to everything. He did a great job of it early with it being the home opener with a lot of fans. I’m glad that some of those shots fell and he got some of the confidence early which helped.”
Cardinal looks to recover when it travels to Chardon on Dec. 9 for the start of three in a row on the road. Geneva prepares for a battle of the undefeateds when it hosts West Geauga on the same date.