Geneva’s red-hot Mitch Mascari takes down Notre Dame

Geneva's Mitch Mascari (22) controls the ball during the Vikings' 58-51 victory over Notre Dame in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, December 27, 2017. Allen Cunningham / for the Sun-Times.

Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy knew exactly what Geneva’s plan was on most of the crucial possessions in the first round of the Wheeling Tournament on Wednesday.

Clancy spent a large part of the game screaming “22.” That’s Geneva junior Mitch Mascari’s number.

Mascari was still able to escape the clutches of the Dons’ defense and score 21 points to lead the Vikings to a 58-51 victory.

“[Mascari] is a gym rat,” Geneva coach Scott Henning said. “We asked him to step up this year and do things that are pushing him. He’s more than just a sniper. He hit some deep ones tonight.”

“[Henning] trusts me to shoot those shots,” Mascari said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work over the offseason. I trust myself to make those shots. I’m used to teams trying to get me off the three-point line now, but my teammates are finding me when I’m open and I’m knocking them down.”

Geneva led by three at the half but the Dons (5-6) dominated the third quarter and led 49-42 with 6:13 to play.

Notre Dame is young, with two freshman, a sophomore and a junior starting. But the Dons took care of the ball very well throughout the game, until Geneva switched to a pressing defense.

Notre Dame turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions and Geneva took advantage with an 8-0 run to take control of the game.

“We were down and the kids really fought back and played hard,” Henning said. “We went to the press, had some success. We have nice length.”

Point guard Jack McDonald played a terrific all-around game and finished with 12 points for the Vikings (7-3). Senior Jack Hood added 12 points and sophomore Nate Santos showed flashes of why he’s considered one of the state’s elite prospects. He finished with seven points.

“The first couple games we were getting to know one another and getting used to a new coach, but now I think the chemistry has really grown,” Hood said.

Freshman Anthony Sayles led Notre Dame with 18 points and emerging big man Dusan Mahorcic, a senior, added 12 points and 13 rebounds.

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