ALGONQUIN – Crystal Lake South’s possession with just more than 3:00 remaining, holding a five-point lead against Jacobs, exemplified the kind of night it was for the Gators.
They took great care of the ball. They twice missed shots and ran down offensive rebounds. They dived for loose balls. They milked the clock. And eventually, forward Matt Reall hit a crushing 8-foot runner in the lane that pretty much sealed the outcome.
“That was just energy,” Gators guard Ben Geske said. “We kept saving the ball, keeping it in play and passing it to our players. It was a ton of energy and always wanting it more than the other team.”
That attitude was prevalent in the second half as South defeated Jacobs, 42-33, in their Fox Valley Conference game Thursday at the Eagles’ Nest, giving them a share of the conference title with Crystal Lake Central.
The Gators (23-7, 12-4 FVC) had not won a conference title since 1994, so they celebrated by dousing coach Matt LePage with a water-bottle shower in the locker room.
“We have tough kids who fight and scrap and claw,” LePage said. “Tonight, defensively in the second half was as good as we’ve played all year, and we weren’t in our normal (1-3-1) zone. Our ball pressure was solid. We made shots and plays down the stretch.”
Jacobs (13-17, 8-8) had won the previous four FVC titles, so Golden Eagles coach Jimmy Roberts appreciated the qualities South displayed.
“In the second half, they completely outtoughed and outhustled us,” Roberts said. “We forced misses and No. 12 (Ryan Lawson) and 11 (Geske) came up with loose balls and got them extra possessions. We didn’t find the basketball in crucial moments. That’s toughness and being locked in and taking care of your responsibilities. They did a better job in those winning moments than we did.”
South limited Jacobs to 11 second-half points. The Gators also went 6 of 10 from the field in the fourth quarter. Reall hit a 3 to make it 36-30, but Jacobs' Matt McCoy, who led all players with 18 points, hit his fifth 3 on the other end.
Geske then found Casey Haskin inside for a layup before South put together the long possession that sealed the victory.
“It’s incredible,” said Reall, who scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. “Since a young age we wanted to win conference. We got a chance to do that this year and we did it. From the beginning of the year, I thought we had it in us. It was just everybody recognizing that.”
Central stopped South’s 10-game winning streak on Friday, but the Gators rebounded with two wins this week to earn a share of the crown.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Geske said. “Especially to do something that our school hasn’t been able to achieve in a very long time.”
Tyler Miller led the Gators with 13 points and Casey Haskin tossed in nine, all in the second half, and blocked three shots. South committed only seven turnovers, one in the second half.
STAR OF THE GAME
Tyler Miller, Crystal Lake South, jr., F
Miller led the Gators with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half, as they defeated Jacobs to claim a share of the Fox Valley Conference championship.
25: Years since South has won the FVC title. The Gators also tied that 1994 team with 23 victories, which ranks No. 5 on South’s all-time list.
Crystal Lake South 42, Jacobs 33
CL SOUTH (42): Geske 1 0-2 2, Lawson 1 1-2 3, Miller 4 3-4 13, Reall 4 1-2 10, Haskin 4 0-0 9, Fischer 0 0-0 0, Glamoc 2 0-0 5, Jewson 0 0-0 0, Gorken 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 5-12 42.
JACOBS (33): Ramsey 0 0-0 0, McCoy 5 3-4 18, Samuel 0 0-0 0, Lyons 2 0-0 5, Henderson 2 0-0 4, Balkcom 0 2-2 2, Hayes 1 1-2 3, Leahy 0 0-0 0, Pennell 0 1-2 1, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Lewis 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 7-10 33.
CL South 10 10 9 13 – 42
Jacobs 10 12 4 7 – 33
3-point goals: CL South 5 (Miller 2, Reall, Haskin, Glamoc), Jacobs 6 (McCoy 5, Lyons). Total fouls: CL South 12, Jacobs 12.