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Too tall of a task

March 5, 2011
Genoa-Kingston High School

By RYAN WOOD - rwood@daily-chronicle.com Comments (No comments posted) | Add Comments
A teary-eyed Bryan Baumgarten looks on as the final minute ticks away on the Cogs' season. (Kyle Bursaw - kbursaw@daily-chronicle.com)
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GENOA - The national anthem never had a chance. With each line, anticipation grew in the Genoa-Kingston-dominated crowd. The fans, many of whom showed up more than 90 minutes before tipoff, couldn't wait any longer.

By the song's final verse, the Cogs' student section swallowed the public address system with a collective, boisterous "brave."

It was that kind of night inside the Genoa-Kingston High School gymnasium. This was the turnout - the electrifying atmosphere - Cogs coach Corey Jenkins hoped for.

The anthem never had a chance.

But against undefeated and No. 7-ranked Rockford Christian, neither did Genoa-Kingston.

The Cogs trailed the Royal Lions almost the entire way in Friday's Class 2A Genoa-Kingston Sectional championship game, eventually losing, 63-50.

While the loss stung, it didn't wipe the smile off G-K senior Bret Lucca's face afterward.

"It was like a dream, the atmosphere," Lucca said. "It was fun, glad I got to do it. I was really nervous, but once the first two, three minutes (passed) I started getting relaxed."

The Lions weren't just better than the Cogs (14-16). They were bigger, longer and more athletic. They were every bit as quick as a G-K team that used its speed to advance the furthest its ever been in the state tournament.

And Rockford Christian (30-0) was more suited for an ear drum-popping, headache-inducing crowd.

"I want to say it was difficult, because it was, but we were prepared for it," Lions coach Shane Bautch said of the atmosphere. "We've played probably six games in front of a sellout gym. So they're kind of used to it. What I had to adjust to was everything had to be in sign language."

The Lions may have had all the physical advantages, but if the game was a few minutes longer, perhaps things could've gotten interesting.

After trailing the entire second half by double digits, the Cogs cut their deficit to 56-48 with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter. With the momentum, Lucca said his team could've gotten even closer if it hadn't run out of time.

Bautch said G-K's eight-point deficit was too close for comfort, but he never panicked.

"Always concerned, because that's my job," Bautch said. "But never worried because this is a senior group of kids that are very mature. They don't crack."

Rockford Christian quickly scored a few points at the free throw line, and the Cogs couldn't cut it within 10 in the final minute.

But with the loss inevitable, G-K's crowd didn't disappoint, chanting "We're still proud."

"I thought the student section did a great job of supporting this team," Jenkins said. "I'm excited for my kids to get this kind of experience."

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