DeKALB – Crystal Lake Central’s players finally made their way to the bus more than 30 minutes after their season had ended.
The Tigers, a senior-heavy group that registered the third-most victories in school history, did not want to accept it was over. Especially not after blitzing Boylan for a 15-point lead less than six minutes into the game.
“Our goal was to win the regional and come to the sectional and win this too,” Central guard Corban Murphy said. “That didn’t happen; that always stinks.”
Boylan not only recovered from Central’s blazing start but frustrated the Tigers through the second half for a 60-49 victory Thursday in the Class 4A DeKalb Sectional semifinal. The Titans (21-8) meet Jefferson (19-12) at 7:30 p.m. today for the championship.
Central senior forward Jake Vanscoyoc, who scored 11 points as the Tigers jumped out 19-4, finished with a team-high 18 points.
“They just sped us up and we couldn’t stop them,” Vanscoyoc said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys …”
Central (25-4) led 27-21 at halftime. The teams traded the lead for two minutes in the third quarter before guard Demarcus Vines gave the Titans the lead for good with a pair of layups, 35-32.
“I looked at our energy before the game and I was excited,” Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. “Our guys came and no question were ready to play. I really kind of thought we’d have that initial surge. They knocked us back on our heels a little bit, and we had trouble recovering and the rim got a little tighter.”
Vanscoyoc’s 3-pointer with 6:24 to go in the fourth cut Boylan’s lead to 43-42, but the Tigers could not get that close again.
“We just stuck to the game plan,” Vines said. “Once we got the lead to six by halftime, we knew we were back in the game, we just had to execute and put the ball in the basket.”
Boylan hit 10 of 31 field goals in the first half, followed by 15 of 26 shooting in the second. Equally important was how the Titans clamped down on Central defensively.
“They were pretty aggressive on defense,” said Murphy, who scored 14 points. “In the second and third quarters we were lackadaisical and didn’t play as well as we should have. That’s where they regrouped and got back at us.”
The Tigers rarely found driving lanes to the basket. They committed nine turnovers in the second and third quarters. They often settled for 3-pointers because they were the open shots they most easily found.
“This team has kind of let it rip all year,” Czeslawski said. “I have faith in the guys who were shooting them, we just couldn’t get them to drop. We took more than we needed to, more than we would have liked to, but at the same time, [Boylan] was doing a heck of a job on defense and keeping us out of the paint. That was a struggle for us.”
Brock Stull led Boylan with 18 points and Vines added 15. Central got seven points and 17 rebounds from Kyle Fleck. The Tigers were 71-16 over the past three seasons.
“It’s hard,” said Murphy, who was on all three of those teams. “Great group of guys, you couldn’t ask for more. Great coaches. It’s tough.”