ALGONQUIN – Jacobs’ chance to win the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division has been messed up for some time.
The surging Golden Eagles now are determined to mess up everyone else’s chances, too.
“It stinks that we can’t win it, but we still want to show people we can play with anyone,” Jacobs forward Sean Meyer said.
Jacobs played an almost flawless fourth quarter to subdue division-leading Cary-Grove, 66-50, in a boys basketball game Tuesday night at the Eagles’ Nest. It was the third consecutive victory for the Eagles, who dumped Crystal Lake South on Friday in an FVC Valley game. In the past five days, Jacobs(6-18 overall, 2-6 FVC Valley) has doubled its win total.
“Our team has settled down and we have the right guys in the right place,” Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said. “This team has come a long way.”
Fortunately for the Trojans, McHenry, which trailed them by a game in the loss column, fell to Huntley, 46-38.
That meant that C-G (13-11, 7-2) still controls its destiny in the FVC Valley. C-G, which clinched a share of the title Tuesday, would win the division outright if it defeats Huntley at home Friday or if McHenry (14-8, 5-3) loses either of its final two games.
C-G played its first full game without point guard Nick Richter, a junior scoring 12 points a game, who is out for the season because of a broken bone in his right foot. After struggling in the first half, C-G played a strong third quarter, hitting 7 of 13 shots. Forward Ryan Barker hit two three-pointers for a41-35 lead with 2:13 remaining in the quarter.
From there, Jacobs got all its points on layups or free throws. The Eagles hit 8 of 9 field goals and 11 of 12 free throws, without committing a turnover, in the fourth quarter.
“Everyone really wanted this game,” said Jacobs forward Matt Schmidt, who led all players with 21 points. “We were 1-6 and said, ‘Let’s lay it on the line, we’re as good as any team in this [division].’ We’ve really turned it up. This is the best basketball we’ve been playing all year.”
Jacobs trailed Libertyville by eight points with less than 2 minutes remaining in Saturday’s non-conference game before rallying to tie and win in overtime, 72-66. So that six-point deficit late in the third quarter didn’t seem like much Tuesday.
“We can be down, but we’ll keep fighting the whole game,” Schmidt said.
After Barker’s threes, the Eagles outscored C-G, 16-2, in a span of 7 minutes. Jacobs shot 56.1 (23 of 41) percent from the field and 82.6 (19 of 23) from the free-throw line for the game.
“We talked a lot about our halfcourt defense,” said Meyer, who had 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. “We trusted one another that we’d cover for each other on defense. And that was probably the best free-throw shooting we’ve had all year.”
Hinkle lauded the defensive work of reserve guard Matt Ehrhardt.
“Our defense did it,” Hinkle said. “Matt Ehrhardt’s defense on their point guard [Matt Jones] was great.”
Jones moved from his 2-guard spot to take over in Richter’s absence. Chad McCarron led C-G with 17 points and Barker added 12.
“Tonight was a learning experience for us [without Richter],” C-G coach Ralph Schuetzle said. “We have people getting used to different positions. Take the quarterback out in football and play the second-string quarterback and it won’t go as well. Jacobs is still good and might be hitting their stride right now.”