Trailing on its home floor late in the fourth quarter with Division-I recruit Amanze Egekeze on the bench with 4 fouls, the Huntley boys basketball team nevertheless prevailed 48-45 against Jacobs Friday, thanks to some clutch shots from its senior guards.
Huntley senior Zach Gorney had connected on just 2 of his last 20 jump shots taken from between 10-18 feet, according to coach Marty Manning's shot chart, but the 6-foot-4 senior twice drained key midrange jumpers to tie the game. His second straight bucket from just inside the 3-point arc knotted the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division contest at 44-44 with 1:52 remaining.
"I found it at a good time, I guess," said Gorney, who led Huntley (12-4, 5-0) with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. "I started hitting when we really needed me to hit shots."
After a missed 3-point attempt at the other end by Jacobs (9-10, 3-2), Huntley senior Riley Wicks drove into the paint and sank a tough, contested shot off the glass, giving the Red Raiders a 46-44 lead with 1:53 left.
"They were defending Zach and Amanze pretty well from driving," said Wicks, who finished with 6 points. "I just saw a hole and I took it."
"I was really proud that he wasn't scared of the moment to make that play at the end," Huntley coach Marty Manning said of Wicks. "He didn't score particularly well and defensively he was OK, but when we needed a basket he wasn't afraid to take it to the hoop."
Jacobs drew within 46-45 when junior point guard Chrishawn Orange split 2 free throws with 57 seconds left.
Egekeze was hen fouled with 15.9 seconds left and sank both ends of the bonus to provide the final margin, though Jacobs wasn't through quite yet.
The Golden Eagles worked the ball around to senior Ben Murray in the right corner, but his 3-point attempt was slightly long. Freshman Cameron Krutwig grabbed the offensive rebound and sent the ball out to junior 3-point specialist Cory Boeckh on the perimeter. After some ballhandling to gain an open look, Boeckh's shot to tie the game at the buzzer rattled in and out.
Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said he was happy with his team's execution on the final play. What he didn't particularly care for were the 14 turnovers Jacobs committed compared to Huntley's 5, a discrepancy that offset the Golden Eagles' 25-11 rebounding dominance.
"In a game like that where it's in the forties, they get 9 more possessions at least than we do," Roberts pointed out. "If we cut those down to 8, we get 5 more shots at the basket. Just too many careless turnovers."
Orange and Krutwig were the driving forces behinds Jacobs' 17-9 run to open the third quarter, a surge that staked the Golden Eagles to a 38-32 lead with 1:32 left in the period. Orange scored 11 points during the run and Krutwig scored on 3 straight possessions to but Jacobs in good position.
"It's hard to get over this one," said Orange, who led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. "We really wanted this one on the road. That's what you try to do in conference, steal one on the road. We were really close, but we came up a little short."
Huntley freshman Jack Bessey hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to draw his team within 3 points of the lead, and senior guard Kyle Slonka's 3-pointer to start the third quarter tied the game at 38. Four times Jacobs took 2-point leads in the fourth quarter and four times the Red Raiders answered, the last two on Gorney midrange jumpers.
Krutwig finished with 9 points and 3 rebounds, junior forward Matt Bindi (6-3) contributed 8 points and 9 rebounds and senior Reilly Peltier (6-4) grabbed 6 rebounds for Jacobs, which saw its 3-game win streak end.
Egekeze scored 15 points to go with 4 rebounds for first-place Huntley, which opened up a 2-game lead in the FVC Valley by virtue of its seventh straight win.