Trailing top-seeded Crystal Lake Central 24-21 at halftime fifth-seeded Crystal Lake South's bid for an upset seemed a possibility.
Central extinguished any of those hopes in the third quarter.
The top seeded Tigers outscored the Gators 25-6 in the third quarter and cruised to a 69-49 win in semifinal action of the Class 4A Jacobs boys basketball regional Wednesday night.
Central will play No. 3 seed Jacobs for the title Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles knocked off second-seeded Dundee-Crown 50-45 in Wednesday's second semifinal. Friday's winner advances to next week's DeKalb sectional to play the winner of the Hononegah regional.
"We had the game at our pace in the first half, " said Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage. "We controlled the tempo. In the third quarter, they got their transition game going and got easy baskets. They were obviously at their best. They are a special team when they play like that."
With the first half featuring 6 lead changes and 5 ties, the Gators gained their last lead of the night at 19-18 on a putback by Eric Schiller. With the score tied at 21, Central went into halftime with momentum as guard Brad Knoeppel converted a conventional 3-point play with 32 seconds left before intermission to give the Tigers a 3-point cushion after 16 minutes.
To start the second half, Schiller buried a 12-footer in the lane to pull the Gators (14-15) within a point at 24-23 with 7:09 remaining in the quarter.
The rest of the quarter and the game belonged to the talented Tigers.
Connecting on 5 consecutive shots, Central seized control of the game with a 12-0 run. Corban Murphy collected 3 baskets and Kyle Fleck and Jake Van Skyoc nailed 3-pointers as the Tigers turned a 1-point lead into a 36-23 advantage with 3:55 left in the quarter.
The Tigers' biggest lead was 25, 64-39, after Knoeppel connected on a layup with 3:12 left in the game.
Connecting on incredible 14-of-16 shots from the field in the second half for a sizzling 88 percent, the Tigers were led by Murphy with 22 points while Fleck scored 18.
"We were very nervous at the beginning of the game, "said Central coach Rich Czeslawski. "We were really tight the entire first half. I told a joke at halftime and we relaxed and played like we were capable in the second half. It was fun to see."
Nick Geske ended his career as a Gator with 20 points including three 3-pointers.