Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013, 10:33 pm

Ottawa (15-3, 4-1 NIB-12) at Geneseo (7-10, 3-2 NIB-12)

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Dan Tomlin, dtomlin@qconline.com

Tonight: The Maple Leafs welcome the Pirates to Geneseo High School for a pivotal Northern Illinois Big 12 West showdown with the tip set for 7:30. The sophomores will play the prelim.

Twitter: @Ness_DA

Probable starters
Geneseo:
G: Jordan Starkey, 5-9, Sr. (14.7 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), Ethan Radue, 5-10, Jr. (7.9, 2.2) & Luke Snyder, 5-11, Jr. (5.6, 4.0); F: Ethan Reschke, 6-2 Sr. (3.2, 2.1) & Grant Burress, 6-1, Sr. (4.2, 3.3).

Ottawa: JD Bryant, 5-11, Sr. (9.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg.), John Carroll, 6-4, Jr. (15.0, 6.0), Chase Hill, 6-0 Jr. (9.0, 5.0), Jacob Draper, 6-4 Jr. (6.0, 5.0), Nick Harsted, 5-9 Sr. (8.0, 3.0).

Why watch: The Pirates have won 11 straight games, not losing since Dec. 11. ... They're on a roll and are coming off an emotional win Tuesday night in Sterling. Ottawa needed two overtimes to hold off the upset-minded Golden Warriors and stay just a game back of conference-leading LaSalle-Peru. ... While it may seem tough to come back and play another tough road game just three days later, Leafs coach Brad Storm said it could be either a positive or a negative. "Sometimes it takes the energy out of you, but then again they won and have momentum. It could go either way. We'll have to wait and see." ... The Leafs are on their own streak, losing eight of their last nine, but could still be in the conference race with a win tonight. ... Jordan Starkey is putting together a monster season, averaging more than 14 points per game, but with the loss of Austin Frank to injury they're missing a big man in the middle. Frank will find out more about his knee injury soon, but the Leafs will have to shore up the inside against the always-physical Pirates. ... When the two teams met the first time in December, Ottawa won 44-39 although the Leafs led for most of the game. Five of the Leafs' seven wins have come at home, while they've won one on a neutral court and one on the road.

What they said:
Ottawa coach Mark Cooper: "We are going to need to play better to give ourselves a chance to get a win. We had a highly-competitive game in December and I expect the same type of contest on Friday night."

Geneseo coach Brad Storm: "It we want to have a chance to winning the conference we have to win Friday. They're a game ahead of us and with a win we'll be tied for second. We played them tough the first time and had a chance to win but couldn't finish. Now we're at home and we've been pretty solid at home."

-- By Dan Tomlin, dtomlin@qconline.com