Musick: Jacobs, D-C show how it's done
CRYSTAL LAKE – Tristen Crow showed up an hour before tipoff Friday in black and yellow pants and a black practice jersey pulled over a yellow T-shirt.
In any other setting, Crow would have looked ridiculous. In this setting, however, he fit right in with more than a hundred Jacobs classmates who also resembled bumblebees.
"I got off work at 5 and came right here," said Crow, a senior who works at Target in Algonquin. "In all of the years I've been here, this is the first year that the school spirit has been this good. It's awesome."
For Jacobs, the game's result was equally awesome.
The Golden Eagles knocked off rival Dundee-Crown, 43-33, to win the Class 4A Crystal Lake Central Regional boys basketball tournament. The win marked a clean sweep for Jacobs this season against D-C, their longtime geographic rival and District 300 partner.
If a better basketball rivalry exists in the Fox Valley Conference, I'd like to see it.
Maybe I'm greedy, but I wish more schools could pack the bleachers and support their classmates the same way as Jacobs and D-C. Because when both student sections go 100-plus deep are separated from the court by only a handful of feet, the atmosphere is a thousand times better.
If it takes a net-cutting controversy to spark a new rivalry, then sign me up. Raise those nets, Tigers.
Because I'll take a loud, low-scoring game over a silent, high-scoring game any day of the week. Even if chants might get stuck in my head like catchy pop songs.
D-C: Who was that to? (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)
Jacobs: You can't do that! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)
On and on it went. A perfect blend of chippy banter without anything crossing the line.
D-C senior Tyler Meeks said familiarity was the key to the rivalry with Jacobs. Both schools' students knew each other well, he said, because many of them attended Dundee Middle School together.
"We grow up with these kids," said Meeks, who stood in the third row. "And when we split off to different high schools, the trash talk escalates. Close football games, close basketball games, all of it."
On the court, both teams refused to budge when it came to defense. Points were scarce and thuds were frequent as bodies hit the floor in an effort to take charges and dive for loose balls.
In the stands, both schools' student sections refused to sit down. Noise was constant and the bleachers swayed as chanting students jumped and landed and jumped and landed and … you get the idea.
In the front row, D-C senior Trent Hanselmann looked like the nation's most patriotic construction worker. Hanselmann helped to coordinate the Chargers' cheers as one of six head superfans. And, yes, he puts "D-C head superfan" on his application for jobs and scholarships.
"It's a blast," said Hanselmann, who will play football next season at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. "These games are awesome.
"The basketball guys are always there [at our football games]. That's why I try and get the most football players here, because they supported us throughout the season, so we've got to support them back."
Jacobs packed two full sections of bleachers, and students who arrived after tipoff were forced to head toward the second deck of seats because no empty spaces remained on the lower level. The student section started many of their own chants – "He's a freshman!" they chanted after every great play by Cameron Krutwig – and followed the cheerleaders' lead for other cheers.
"I like this because you can tell we're loud," Jacobs sophomore Sarah Murray said with a smile from her perch in the middle of the bleachers. "We're loud and we're obnoxious."
They're also good planners.
"You guys!" a voice descended from the second deck during halftime. "Steak 'n Shake after this!"
Here's hoping for bigger, louder student sections across the Fox Valley next season. Here's hoping that more excitement in the bleachers translates to more excitement on the court.
Could other schools follow the trend?
"Not like Dundee-Crown and Jacobs, I don't think," Meeks said. "Too much history behind it. You can't duplicate it."
But it's worth a shot.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.