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It is too bad that this installment of the Jacobs girls basketball team wasn’t around when Shaquille O’Neal shot free throws during his NBA career.
As hosts of the Class 4A regional, the Golden Eagles could have taught Shaq how to actually shoot a free throw. Jacobs showed Larkin what happens when you put the Eagles in the double bonus with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Jacobs made 15 of 20 from the line in the fourth quarter Monday night to seal a 54-47 win over Larkin that puts the fifth-seeded Eagles in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded South Elgin, which beat the Golden Eagles 80-42 on Nov. 26.
Jacobs (8-20), winners of three-straight, scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished the night 25 of 33 from the free-throw line. It’s what made the pendulum swing Jacobs’ way after Larkin (10-19) rallied in the third quarter to take a 1-point edge after three quarters.
“We’ve actually been a pretty good free throw shooting team all season long,” Jacobs coach Joe Benoit said. “Free throws in many of (his team’s wins) have been the key.”
Jenny Barnec swished 2 in the fourth for a team-high 12 points. Carly Sidor drained 5 of 8 from the stripe for 7 points and Glenita Williams drained all 5 of her points from the line for Jacobs while Larkin’s Marlee Kyles, who had 23 points at the end of the third quarter, fell to injury as did others Royals in the fourth quarter when the team ran out of gas.
“Well, when all three guards go out, yeah, then it’s ‘who brings the ball up?’” Larkin coach Ruben Flores said. “It just wasn’t in the cards tonight.”
Larkin jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first 3 minutes of the game, and led by as many as 10 in the second. Jacobs came alive in the second quarter when Barnec sank one from the right block to make it 16-15 and then her three-point play on the subsequent possession gave Jacobs the lead into the third.
Kyles took over the third, scoring 12 points, including one sequence where her steal and layup led to a 3-point play and a 31-29 Larkin lead, capping a 10-3 run.
But Jacobs went into the double bonus at the 6:30 mark of the fourth and the Eagles made it a free throw contest from there on out.
“Free throws definitely got us that quarter,” Barnec said. “We had to hold our ground, keep the ball, keep moving it.”
Jacobs forced 15 Royals turnovers and outrebounded them 35-34 despite 7 from Kyles and 7 rebounds from Alyssa McGhee, who scored 5 points.
“The Larkin girls program is trending in the right direction,” Flores said. “My expectations were right about there. My expectation were to win one of these games in the playoffs.”