CARPENTERSVILLE – Jacobs played so many meaningful games over the previous four seasons while winning division titles, conference titles and regional titles, that the Golden Eagles developed a way of imposing their will on foes in tight games.
Dundee-Crown, on the other hand, had very little experience in such situations. The Chargers’ most important game over the past five seasons was Wednesday’s overtime victory over St. Charles East.
But on Friday, D-C turned all of that around.
The Chargers hit big shots, such as 3-pointers from the left corner by seniors Gabe Bergeron and Jack Orndahl in the final 3:10. They made big stops on defense and hit free throws, like a pair each from Damarion Butler and Josh Raby in the final minute.
No. 6-seeded D-C had every answer and knocked off No. 2 Jacobs, 45-40, in the Class 4A D-C Regional championship, the Chargers’ first regional title since their 2009 team took fourth in the state tournament.
“We knew we were the underdogs and that was our edge,” Chargers forward Gabe Bergeron said. “We had nothing to lose, and (Jacobs) had everything to lose. I know I never lost hope during that game. We fought the entire time and deserved it. We’ve been fighting all year. We were able to do the little things and get it done. It’s amazing.”
D-C (17-12) has won 10 of its past
11 games and will face Jefferson (25-6) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a Jacobs Sectional semifinal. Larkin plays Auburn in the first semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s awesome to win this,” D-C coach Lance Huber said. “For us, regional titles don’t come around every year. These guys kept chugging away, game by game, and were able to get better and better every day and kind of got to the pinnacle right here. It gives us an opportunity to keep playing.”
D-C did not lead until late in the third quarter and trailed, 35-32, with 3:30 remaining in the fourth when Bergeron swished a 3 from the left corner. On the next possession, Orndahl, saddled with foul problems, made his only basket of the night, from the same spot.
“Considering that was the most open I was all night, I was definitely pulling it,” Orndahl said. “It felt good coming off. I’ve shot a thousand of those in this gym.”
Jacobs, which missed all nine of its free throws in the first three quarters, got a pair of free throws from Nik Balkcom to make it 38-37, but Josh Raby, who led all players with 14 points, hit a 12-footer with 1:20 to go.
Butler hit two free throws with 44 seconds remaining for a 42-37 lead, then Raby iced the victory with two more with 10 seconds to go.
“Jack’s 3 was huge. The second I saw it go in I got chills,” said Bergeron, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. “I thought, ‘All right, we’re going to turn this around right here. This is going to be our game.’ It felt great.”
Jacobs (25-4) was trying to win a fourth regional in five years. The Eagles finished the regular season with six wins without leading scorer Ryan Phillips, who was sidelined with a broken bone his right hand.
The Eagles were 4 of 16 at the line for the game, and shot 5 of 24 on field goals in the second half.
“We didn’t put the ball in the basket,” Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. “We didn’t deserve to win the game ultimately. They deserved to win. We just didn’t make plays we typically make. Gabe made a big shot. We didn’t make any big shots.”
Sophomore Jaden Henderson led Jacobs with 11 points, and Kameron Mack added seven. It was a tough ending to a remarkable season in which Jacobs went 16-0 in the Fox Valley Conference and won its own Hinkle Holiday Classic after 6-foot-9 Cameron Krutwig graduated from last year’s 30-2 team.
“Everybody said, ‘What’s Jacobs going to be without Cam?’ ” Balkcom said. “I really thought we proved ourselves to be a good team without him. We lost in a regional championship, but we proved a lot. I don’t think this defines us at all. Not at all. Dundee-Crown played a good game today. I don’t think we played our best game. It’s a very special season. We proved to a lot of people what we really are.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Josh Raby, Dundee-Crown, Jr., F
Raby, a 6-foot-5 junior reserve, led the Chargers with 14 points, hitting 4-of-5 field goals. Raby nailed a crucial 3-pointer in the second quarter. His 12-footer with 1:20 remaining gave D-C a 40-37 lead.
9: Consecutive free throws that Jacobs missed before sophomore Jaden Henderson made a pair with 4:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
AND ANOTHER THING...
The game was played 11 years to the day after D-C beat Jacobs, 43-41, for the 2007 Class AA D-C Regional championship. That was the last year of two classes for most IHSA sports.
Dundee-Crown 45, Jacobs 40
DUNDEE-CROWN (45): Orndahl 1 0-0 3, Butler 1 2-3 4, Hairston 2 1-3 5, Bergeron 2 7-7 12, Stec 1 0-0 2, Michalski 1 1-2 3, Raby 4 5-8 14, Hatcher 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 16-23 45
JACOBS (40): Balkcom 1 2-6 5, Rodriguez 2 0-1 4, Mack 3 0-2 7, Murray 1 0-0 3, Henderson 4 2-2 11, McCoy 2 0-0 6, Price 2 0-1 4, Volenec 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 4-16 40.
Dundee-Crown 5 17 8 15 – 45
Jacobs 10 15 6 9 – 40
3-point goals: Dundee-Crown 3 (Orndahl, Bergeron, Raby), Jacobs 6 (McCoy 2, Balkcom, Mack, Murray, Henderson). Total fouls: Dundee-Crown 15, Jacobs 14. IHSA 3-Point Shootout state qualifiers: Matt McCoy (Jacobs) 10, Tim Pinsel (Jacobs) 10, Cory Knipp (Huntley) 10, Zach Robinson (St. Charles East) 10.