Retiring Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle has his final team on a roll following a slow start.
The Golden Eagles improved to 8-7 on Tuesday with a thrilling 76-66 double-overtime victory over rival Dundee-Crown at the Eagles' Nest, highlighted by senior Nick Ledinsky's game-tying 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer.
Jacobs opened the year with 3 losses at the Quincy Thanksgiving Tournament before dropping its home opener against Huntley on Dec. 7.
"I like to say were 8-3 since we started 0-4," Hinkle said with his trademark laugh after the D-C game.
The key to the turnaround?
"We are playing now like we play when we practice," Hinkle explained. "That's what no one understands. When we were 0-4 and shooting 18 percent from the field and not getting anything done, it was so frustrating for us because we're better than that. But we just couldn't get on track.
"We were playing 12, 13 guys trying to find a rotation. We started eight different lineups in the first 9 games. Now we've started the same lineup 4 games in a row and the kids are adjusting to what their role is and knowing who can do what. I just think were playing very well right now."
Jacobs returns to action with doubleheaders on both Saturday and Monday at the Hononegah Martin Luther King Tournament. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles will face Hononegah (12:30 p.m.) and DeKalb (5 p.m.). Jacobs squares off Monday against Normal West (9:30 a.m.) and Normal (3:30 p.m.).
"We have a tough weekend coming up," Hinkle said. " It will be a real test, but we're really looking forward to it."
Clash of hot teams: Two of the Upstate Eight Conference's hottest teams collide tonight when Bartlett (14-4, 5-1) visits Lake Park (13-6, 3-4) in a Valley Division rematch.
Bartlett has won 5 straight and 12 of 14 since opening the season 2-2 at the Wheaton Academy Thanksgiving Tournament. The Hawks enter the weekend half a game behind Neuqua Valley (15-1, 6-1) in the Valley Division of the Upstate Eight Conference.
The Lancers have won 6 straight, a streak that includes quality wins over Prospect and DuPage Valley Conference co-leader Glenbard East. The Hawks defeated Lake Park 53-37 in Bartlett on Dec. 1.
"The second half of the season is always brutal and it starts with Lake Park, which is the only game I'm worried about right now," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "It is always tough to win on the road in our division. We have 4 of our 6 games in the second half on the road, so we've got our work cut out for us to stay where we're at."
Bartlett will compete in the inaugural Wheaton Warrenville South Martin Luther King Tournament Saturday and Monday. The Hawks open the 8-team bracketed tournament against Lincoln Park on Saturday at 6 p.m. Saturday's other first-round games feature Metea Valley vs. Oak Lawn (3 p.m.), Palatine vs. Plainfield Central (4:30 p.m.) and Oswego vs. the hosts (7:30 p.m.).
"Hopefully, win or lose (against Lake Park), we play good basketball and go into that Wheaton Warrenville South tournament and continue playing well," Wolfsmith said.
Streamwood faces endurance test: Streamwood coach Tim Jones always knew the coming week would be busy, but not quite this busy.
The Sabres tonight begin a stretch of 6 games in the next five days and 8 games in the next nine days overall.
Streamwood (6-11, 1-5 UEC River) was originally scheduled to play 7 contests during the nine-day stretch, beginning with tonight's rematch at division-leading Larkin (15-2), a team Streamwood upset 56-53 on Nov. 27.
However, a nonconference home game against Elk Grove, originally slated for February, had to be moved once Streamwood was awarded a Class 4A girls basketball regional that week. The Sabres will instead play the Grenadiers next Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.
That makes for a quick turnaround. Streamwood is scheduled to play 2 games Saturday and 2 more Monday at the Lake Zurich MLK Tournament. The crucible concludes with UEC River games at St. Charles East next Thursday and against Elgin next Saturday.
Making matters more challenging are recent injuries to starter Vince Williams (concussion) and Jacob Siewert (foot).
"At that Martin Luther King tournament we'll have a chance to play a few more kids who don't always get a chance to play," Jones said. "Now some of the juniors will get a chance to play more."
Saturday matinee: Hampshire will play its first home game since Dec. 18 against Grayslake North on Saturday. The varsity game will tip at 2:30 p.m.
Jacobs tournament opening: Jacobs High School has one opening for the 2013 Jacobs Holiday Classic varsity boys basketball tournament, next Dec 22-23, 26-28. Teams are guaranteed 5 games. For more information, contact Jacobs athletic director Dan Vosnos or coach Jim Hinkle at (847) 532-6106.