It's extremely rare after regional semifinal games to see opposing coaches address the winning team in their locker room. But there was a precedent for second-seeded Prairie Ridge coach Corky Card after Jacobs' come-from-behind 55-46 Class 4A Crystal Lake Central win Tuesday night.
Card was ejected with 2 seconds left in a game that featured 55 fouls and 63 free throws and the PR (17-11) coach wanted to pay his respect to a third-seeded Jacobs squad that clawed tooth and nail down 6 points in the final 7:30 to move onto Friday's regional championship against District-300 rival Dundee-Crown, the No. 5 seed that ousted top-seeded Cary-Grove Tuesday.
"I wanted to make sure that they understood getting tossed out at the end there, I didn't obviously want to mar their victory." Card said. "I wanted to make sure they knew they were congratulated and I didn't want any cloud hanging over. They fought their (rears) off just like everyone else and they won so I wanted to make sure I told them that they played very well."
Chrishawn Orange led the Golden Eagles with 25 points, going went 19 of 23 from the free throw line, as Jacobs hit a balmy 30 of 40 and 16 of 21 in the fourth quarter.
But the fray Jacobs (17-13) had to endure was as helter-skelter as it gets. Prairie Ridge led 42-39 with 1:56 remaining when Matt Perhats sent Orange to the line. He hit both attempts to cut the lead to 1.
On the subsequent possession, Ben Murray (16 points, 2 steals) missed a layup on steal he collected at midcourt but Orange was able to track down the miss and take it away from Steven Ticknor and call timeout with 1:07 left. Orange then drained a one-handed fadeaway in the lane with: 55 seconds left to give Jacobs the lead for good at 43-42.
After a PR miss, Orange drained 2 free throws with 32.2 left to put Jacobs ahead by 3. After repeated chances to tie, PR was continually forced to foul.
"That's one of our biggest things, get to the line, try to knock them down," Orange said. "Because even if it's at the beginning of the game or the end of the game those free throws count, always every time I get to the line I want to knock them down every time."
An intentional foul call on Perhats with 9.2 seconds left and PR trailing by 4 led to Card's dismissal. Six seconds later he was tossed.
"It's a shame the last 30 seconds to a minute had to end in the manner that it did," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "I think it was a really good game and it deserved a better finish."
But Jacobs did sweat for it. Murray had 2 key steals down the stretch and Orange scored 9 of his 11 in the fourth from the free throw line. Murray hit a 3 to pull Jacobs within 2 with 5 minutes left. He gave Jacobs the lead with 4:30 left on a traditional three-point play the very next possession.
"Everything was happening at once and it was all going good and I don't know, it all turned out (good) at the end," Murray said. "Going into the fourth quarter we all knew ‘just keep fighting, keep fighting, it's going to turnaround eventually and we're going to pull this one out.' When we were that close we were kind of hungry for it, we knew we were going to get this tonight, it (wasn't) going to slip through our fingers."
Michael Bradshaw led PR with 16 points.