High school boys basketball: Jacobs defeats Burlington Central behind strong defense

BURLINGTON – There wasn't much mystery to Jacobs' 54-39 bounce-back Fox Valley Conference victory Saturday at Burlington Central.

The Golden Eagles' ball-pressure defense made the Rockets earn every point. Meanwhile, Jacobs canned shots at the other end with regularity.

Jacobs (6-2, 3-1 FVC) shot 53% from the field (16 of 30) and limited Central (5-3, 1-3) to 37% shooting (15 of 41).

"We're still not shooting it great. We can shoot it better," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said three days after a 15-point loss at Hampshire. "But the way we're guarding, if we can just knock a couple down, if we can get to 50, teams are going to have a hard time beating us."

The Rockets had a hard time stopping Jacobs from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles drained 5 of 9 first-half attempts from 3-point range to take a 25-18 halftime lead. Junior guard Zach Leahy sank three from long range, two from the same corner.

"We didn't want to give up corner 3s," Rockets coach Brett Porto said. "I felt we helped off [guard James Hayes] a little bit too much. That got them going. Whenever they needed a big one, it seemed like they got a corner three on us, so that was a little disappointing."

Senior guard Andrew Balkcom's 3-pointer from the corner beat the first-quarter buzzer and gave Jacobs a 10-9 lead.

The Golden Eagles turned the ball over six times in the second quarter and lost the first-half rebounding battle, 13-9. Still, they forged a 25-18 halftime lead by holding the Rockets to 4-of-13 shooting in each of the first two quarters.

"We had two great days of preparation," Jacobs senior Jaden Henderson said of the defensive effort, "physical in practice, guys just working each other."”

Burlington senior Jake Lenschow scored a game-high 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and Josh Hudgens made 5 of 12 shots for 11 points. Sophomore Zac Schmidt scored six, but no other Rocket managed more than two points. Burlington made 1 of 9 attempts from 3-point range.

"Their ball pressure really bothered us," Porto sad. "We can't simulate that in practice. Hopefully, as we play more and more of these, we'll get a little bit more comfortable with it."

Leahy led Jacobs in points (12) and rebounds (6), Henderson scored 11 points, — highlighted by a thunderous fourth-quarter dunk on a press break, and Balkcom added 10 points and three assists.

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