If the Class 4A DeKalb sectional has a team of destiny, its name is Jacobs.
The Golden Eagles entered regional play on their home floor this week determined to send retiring, 71-year old coach Jim Hinkle off on a high note.
Following Monday's 43-25 win over Prairie Ridge in the regional play-in game, fortune smiled upon Jacobs, which gained an extra day of rest prior to a semifinal clash against rival Dundee-Crown, thanks to Tuesday's snowstorm.
Better rested, No. 3 Jacobs (18-14) upset No. 2 Dundee-Crown (19-6) by 5 points to gain a berth in today's regional title game against top seed Crystal Lake Central (25-3) at 7:30 p.m.
"I thought we caught a break with Mother Nature and we took advantage of it," Hinkle said Thursday. "That had to be a factor, not having to play on back-to-back nights. I don't know if we would have had the energy if we'd had to come right back."
Hinkle realizes the Golden Eagles are underdogs against CL Central, which has already played 6 games this season on Jacobs' home court. The Tigers won 5 straight games on HDJ hardwood in December when they won the Jacobs Holiday Classic. They disposed of rival CL South 69-49 in a Wednesday semifinal.
"It's our house, but it's their apartment," Hinkle said of CL Central's familiarity with Jacobs' gym.
The Tigers are led by senior guards Corban Murphy and Brad Knoeppel, who combine to average 26 ppg. Murphy scored 22 points against CL South, while 6-foot-7 senior center Kyle Fleck scored 16.
"Do they have a lot of talent? They have great talent," Hinkle said. "Their front-line talent is, no question, the best in the area. They are very good. But if we can get someone in foul trouble, I don't think they have the depth we do. They're not as deep, so it would be nice if we could get to the rim and get them in a little foul trouble. That's the plan."
Jacobs counters with seniors Will Schwerdtmann (11.4 ppg, 45 3-pointers), Lake Ojo (8.9 ppg, 6 rpg) and Nick Ledinsky (7.5 ppg). Sophomore point guard Chrishawn Orange averages 6.9 ppg, but he led the Eagles with 18 points in the win over D-C.
Jacobs seeks the program's sixth regional title and fourth under Hinkle. Crystal Lake Central is vying for its first regional title at the Class 4A level. The Tigers won a Class 3A regional two seasons ago under seventh-year coach Rich Czeslawski.
Larkin (22-5) vs. St. Charles North (17-10): St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin is hoping for a better result against Larkin in the South Elgin regional title game considering how the first 2 meetings against the Royals went. UEC River champion Larkin defeated St. Charles North 61-48 in St. Charles on Dec. 7 and 76-56 in Elgin on Jan. 26.
"We have probably played 16 minutes of good basketball against Larkin (in 2 games) this year," Poulin told reporters after Wednesday's 69-53 win over St. Charles East. "And that's because of them. We'll have our hands full."
Poulin was particularly complimentary of Larkin guard Kendale McCullum after the January clash between the teams, calling him a tough-to-defend slasher. The junior scored a game-best 20 points in that contest.
McCullum and senior guards Quentin Ruff and Quantice Hunter were each named all-Upstate Eight River this season. They will likely be joined again in the starting lineup by junior guard Derrick Streety if 6-foot-6 junior forward Drew Jones is again unable to play due to a knee hyperextension. Streety started in Jones' place in Larkin's 74-52 semifinal win over Elgin on Wednesday and led the Royals with 21 points.
"Half the teams in the state are done playing, so Derrick's no longer a junior," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "Our juniors are now seniors and our seniors are now fifth-year seniors. He played big, and somebody else is going to have to answer the bell (against St. Charles North)."
St. Charles North is led by Loyola-bound senior Quinten Payne, an all-UEC River selection who scored 26 points in the semifinal victory.
Larkin seeks its first regional title since Dayvon Ellis and Carliss Henderson led the program to its second consecutive regional title in 2005-06.
St. Charles North seeks the program's third regional title and second under seventh-year coach Poulin, who directed the North Stars to a regional championship in the 2008-09 season. That team reached a sectional title game before losing to Dundee-Crown 51-49 in a thriller at Elgin's Chesbrough Field House.
Bartlett (20-9) vs. York (21-7): Illinois-Chicago recruit Lance Whitaker and the Hawks advanced to tonight's York regional title game after knocking off No. 10 Leyden (17-10) by a 33-29 final score Thursday night, a game delayed 24 hours due to Tuesday's snowstorm.
No. 7 Bartlett must find a way to slow No. 2 York and Colorado State-bound senior guard David Cohn in order to secure its first regional title since 2008-09, when the Hawks reached the Elite Eight before losing to Waukegan.
"It would be nice if the IHSA would have granted us that extra day and played this game on Wednesday so we would have had a day to prepare," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said after Thursday's win. "It's never easy to turn around and play again the next day.
"The first thing we have to take care of is boxing out. We have got to rebound against York. Leyden did a good job of that against us, and York is a heck of a lot bigger. We have to believe in our box out and play good defense. Part of playing good defense is getting those rebounds.
Hampshire (23-5) vs. Sycamore (18-9): Top seed Hampshire seeks its first regional since 2004-05 when the Whip-Purs face No. 2 Sycamore in the Class 3A Burlington Central regional title game at 7:30 p.m.
FVC Fox co-champion Hampshire fell behind Burlington Central 11-0 in Wednesday's semifinal only to outscore the Rockets 49-20 the rest of the game. Senior guard Tyler Crater scored his 1,000th point in the fourth quarter. Seniors Shane Hernandez and Michael Dumoulin combined to score 20 points and haul down 17 rebounds in the victory over Burlington Central.
-- Daily Herald correspondent Craig Brueske contributed to this report