The Jacobs boys basketball team finally got the defensive stops it sought in the closing minutes of Wednesday's 53-50 home win over McHenry.
Thanks to an offensive rebound by senior Robert Grant, junior guard Kenton Mack gave Jacobs (6-6, 2-0) the lead for good on a second-chance drive with 3:48 to play, marking the fifth and final lead change of the fourth quarter between the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division foes.
McHenry (7-6, 0-1), which had connected on 5 of 15 attempts from 3-point range through three quarters, went cold from long range in the game's final 3:22. Seniors Greg Johnson and Kyle Postal and sophomore Nick Bellich each missed a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch.
"They are going to shoot 3s and get 3s, but the key is you have to contest them," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "I thought we did a good job, especially in the fourth quarter, of having hands up and making them shoot contested 3s."
McHenry made just 1 of 8 shots from 3-point range in the final period and finished 6 of 23 overall.
"We had a couple of good looks," McHenry coach Tim Paddock said. "A couple of times now we've had some good looks and we haven't hit them down the stretch. Offensively, we just continue to go through some stretches. When you go that many possessions and don't score, it makes it tough."
Leading 47-46 with 1:15 to play, Jacobs junior guard Chrishawn Orange gave the Golden Eagles a 3-point lead, courtesy of his drive down the right side of the lane for a layup.
"Once we got a stop and got another score to put us up 3, that really put is in a comfortable lead in that kind of game," said Orange, who scored a game-best 18 points to go with 5 rebounds.
"They jumped into man (defense) and our kids did a good job of executing," Roberts said. "We set a ball screen up high and Chris came and did what Chris does."
Following an errant 3-point attempt by the Warriors, Grant hauled in the rebound and gave the ball to Mack, who was promptly fouled and sank both free throws to extend Jacobs' lead to 51-46 with 37 seconds remaining. Grant snared 4 of his 15 rebounds in the game's final three-plus minutes.
"That's what we practice all day: rebounding," said Grant, a 6-foot-5 senior. "Coach has us working on it all the time. Posts got to do their job. If you work hard, you get the results at the end."
Mack (11 points) sank 2 more free throws with 18.7 seconds left to put Jacobs ahead 53-46.
The Warriors finally answered with a Nick Higgin tip-in with 9 seconds left to halt an 8-0 Jacobs run, and Bellich scored uncontested at the buzzer to trim the final margin to 3 points. Bellich led McHenry with 15 points and Higgin added 10.
The Golden Eagles won despite losing senior guard Ben Murray to a concussion after he bumped heads with a McHenry player at the end of the second quarter. Murray, who scored 11 points in the first half, said he was knocked unconscious briefly.
"I don't know exactly what happened but his face ended up in my mouth and my head kind of snapped," Murray said. "I woke up and everybody was looking at me. I was like, 'Oh, hey, what's up guys?'"
Murray said he hopes to return to practice by next Tuesday in time to play at Crystal Lake South next Wednesday.