ALGONQUIN – Jacobs guard Chrishawn Orange sensed something needed to be done as the Golden Eagles clung to a late one-point lead.
“We just needed to get a stop and then get another score,” said Orange, who had a game-high 18 points. “It was just a play in our offense. I saw an opening, and I just had to take it.”
Orange started to the left of the key, used a screen and drove the right side of the lane for a layup with 1:15 remaining. Finally, for the first time in more than six minutes, Jacobs had a three-point lead, which was crucial as the Eagles held off McHenry, 53-50, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball game Wednesday night at the Eagles’ Nest.
“That was a huge play,” Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. “We kept going back and forth, and we finally had two or three possessions where we were up one. [McHenry] jumped from zone into man defense and we set Chris a ball screen up high. When we get the ball in Chris’ hands, good things happen.”
Jacobs (6-6 overall, 2-0 FVC Valley) survived the second half without guard Ben Murray, who scored 11 points but suffered a concussion on the final play of the first half. Guard Kenton Mack picked up some of the slack with nine second-half points, but the Eagles could not distance themselves from the Warriors (7-6, 0-1).
After Orange’s big basket made it 49-46, McHenry’s Greg Johnson, who leads the team with 35 3-pointers, had two chances at 3s that did not fall.
“We got some good looks and just didn’t hit them,” McHenry coach Tim Paddock said. “When we shoot well, we can beat anybody. We just went too many possessions where we didn’t score there late in the game.”
Mack and Mike Canady each added a pair of free throws in the final minute to bump Jacobs’ lead to five points. Eagles forward Robert Grant, a 6-foot-6 transfer from South Elgin, grabbed six of his game-high 15 rebounds in the fourth quarter, often allowing McHenry only one shot.
“That’s what we practice all day,” Grant said. “As posts we have to do our job.”
Roberts calls Grant an “energy guy” and loves what he brings in a reserve role.
“He’s a huge asset for us in our league,” Roberts said. “When he goes up, we feel like he’s going to come down with the ball.”
Murray wasn’t sure what happened, but thought he hit heads with a McHenry player just before the half. The Warriors intercepted the pass and sophomore guard Nick Bellich buried a 3 at the buzzer to cut Jacobs’ lead to 26-22.
“The next thing I knew I woke up and said, ‘What’s up, guys?’ ” Murray said. “I was so mad [to have to come out].”
Murray must sit out five days but could be able to return for Wednesday’s game at Crystal Lake South.
Bellich led McHenry with 15 points and Johnson, who hit three 3s, added nine.