Now that the season has reached a single-elimination format, this is where Jim Hinkle's coaching career at Jacobs reminds you of a game of Russian roulette.
But in Monday night's 43-25 Class 4A regional quarterfinal win over No. 6 Prairie Ridge in Algonquin, the 71-year-old Hinkle outlasted the Wolves to coach another game. And he also received another chance, for possibly the last time, to refute an ugly victory claim for the first time.
No. 3 Jacobs (17-14) led 16-13 at the half in a turnover-plagued 16 minutes, where Prairie Ridge (8-19) fell a turnover short of equaling its score and shot 5-for-16, while Jacobs coughed up 6 of its own on 7 of 22 shooting.
And not to escape the turnovers Jacobs, which finished with 20 overall, helped prompt 6 of PR's 22 in third quarter with pressure defense and outscored the Wolves 11-1 as a by-product, which blossomed the lead to 13 into the fourth, allowing the Golden Eagles into a regional semifinal against No. 2 Dundee-Crown tonight at 7:30 p.m.
D-C and Jacobs split two conference meetings, with Jacobs coming away with a 76-66 double overtime win the last time they met at the Eagles' Nest on Jan. 15.
"You'll never get me to say it, I was thinking that when I came out," said Hinkle, who was visibly nervous during pregame warm-ups but all smiles afterward, of ugly wins. "I thought our defense was outstanding. That kept us in the game until we could finally get a basket."
Those shots came from Will Schwerdtmann, who scored 5 of his game-high 18 points, and Nick Ledinsky, who dropped 4 of his 9 points in the third.
Ledinsky scored Jacobs' first 2 baskets in the quarter, while Schwerdtmann (13 rebounds) nailed the last 2. The Golden Eagles came away with 3 steals as Chrishawn Orange (7 points, 2 steals) paced the Eagles, who shot much better in the second half with a 42 percent clip on 9 of 21.
"We just know if we keep our defense up, the points will come," said Schwerdtmann, who also had 13 rebounds. "We were getting the ball into transition, that led to some easier open looks and some nice shots."
In the onset, Lake Ojo's one-handed slam for Jacobs' opening basket provided some buzz. But those sparks quickly vanished and a ragged game ensued until Jacobs came out shooting much better in the third, where the Eagles later furthered their lead to 18 and Schwerdtmann's 2-handed slam in transition became the exclamation point late in the fourth.
"They came and pressured us and that was really the difference in the game," said Wolves coach Corky Card, whose team was led by Steven Ticknor's 11 points. "They turned us over and had us going up and down a little bit."
As for Hinkle, he has this message for tonight's game against D-C.
"Last chance," Hinkle said. "Last chance, last dance. Let's make it last as long as it can."