Bartlett had the perfect run-stopper in Lance Whitaker when it faced the hosts for the Class A consolation championship of the Jacobs Boys Holiday Basketball Classic on Saturday afternoon in Algonquin.
The Hawks experienced an all-too-familiar scenario as a 13-point lead turned into a 3-point deficit to the Golden Eagles in less than eight minutes in the second half. Then the UIC-bound Whitaker took matters into his own hands.
The 6-foot-4 senior had a hand in all of Bartlett's points in a 15-4 spurt as it recovered for a 59-52 victory and a 4-1 finish in the tournament at the Eagles Nest.
"I felt we were getting a little out of control on offense," Whitaker said after finishing with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists and earning all-tourney honors. "It was a good time to get to the basket and get to the (free-throw) line so we could refocus and we were able to do that."
Whitaker's 9 points in the decisive stretch included 7-for-8 free throw shooting off drives to the basket and a score off his own miss. But he also drove and dished to all-tourney pick Jon Moss (11 points) for his third 3-pointer of the game and to Justin Busch for a 3 to help Bartlett (12-4) take a 50-42 lead with 2:19 to play.
Jacobs (6-7) would get no closer than 6 points the rest of the way.
"He's hard to match," Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said of Whitaker.
"We want Lance always going to the basket because there are very few kids who we are going to go up against in the course of the year who are that strong," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. "When he gets into the lane, he's so good it forces five defenders to him."
Bartlett hit 13 of its first 24 shots and led 32-19 when Whitaker found Mitch Reid for a layup 49 seconds into the second half. But Jacobs' trapping pressure defense fueled a 19-2 tear where all-tourney pick Will Schwerdtmann (20 points, 8 rebounds) and Lake Ojo (16 points, 5 rebounds) scored the first 17 points. The third of Schwerdtmann's four 3s came with a defender right in his face just before the third-quarter buzzer.
Schwerdtmann was fouled after he scored off his own miss to give Jacobs its first lead at 36-35, grabbed his missed free throw and found Jon Berndt for a layup with 7:34 to play. But shooting struggles that included 5-for-15 on free throws made the lead short-lived.
"I'm pleased with our effort and it was an honest effort," Hinkle said. "I thought we played well enough to win. We came out with a lot of resolve in the second half and played solid defense."
Moss' tying 3 helped get Bartlett back on the right track.
"We have to make sure we keep executing plays when we get the lead instead of slacking off on offense and defense," Whitaker said.
"I would like one of these days to get a 15-point lead and extend it," Wolfsmith said with a laugh. "We have to find a way to compose ourselves offensively when we have that type of lead and not force shots and play good defense, which we didn't do there in that third quarter."