Despite the fact the Jacobs boys basketball team supplied its second and third worst scoring outputs of the season over the last 11 days, the Golden Eagles offense never limboed into the 30s.
And while scoring less than 40 can spell disaster for some, Jacobs, suffering a first this season, still managed a 38-37 win over Cary-Grove banking on its team defense once again to grab at least a share of the Fox Valley Conference title.
Jacobs (20-3, 12-0), which won its seventh straight and pushed its FVC win streak to 21, held the Trojans (11-13, 7-7) to a 33.3 percent clip on 12 made baskets and helped C-G commit 17 turnovers. And that's what Jacobs had to do after it struggled with a 35.7 percent clip and just 3 free throws made.
"We just (couldn't) make a shot," said Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts, who watched his team score 15 second half points. "But to our kids' credit they've won a lot of games in a lot of different ways and they defended, kept defending."
They also made a big play down the stretch with 1:54 to go on Nik Balkcom's pass to Ben Murray, whose layup gave Jacobs a 36-33 lead that allowed the Golden Eagles to breathe a little easier. But as close as it was throughout the second half, Matt McCoy's team-high 11 points off the bench came on timely 3-pointers Jacobs so badly needed.
When Jacobs saw a 10-point first half lead evaporate late in the second quarter, McCoy helped end the half on a 9-2 run with 2 corner 3s for a 23-16 halftime lead. After Frank Jakubicek (12 points) cut it to 2 on his free throws with 5:51 left in the fourth, McCoy countered with another corner 3 for a 34-29 lead with 5:13 remaining.
"After not being able to shoot the ball very well, I spotted the team some buckets as best I could," McCoy said. "I just told myself to keep shooting, eventually they're going to go in because I have confidence in myself that they'll go in eventually."
Balkcom (2 steals) and fellow senior Kameron Mack (8 rebounds) each had 8 points as Balkcom also beat the halftime buzzer with his own 3. Jacobs sported 16 bench points and 12 points off turnovers whereas Cary-Grove only featured 4 scorers with Sam Carhart (4 rebounds, 3 steals) leading the way with a game-high 14 points.
The Trojans though struggled and nearly finished the first quarter scoreless until Carhart's buzzer-beating 3 avoided a 10-0 second quarter hole. C-G eventually used that momentum to tie at 14 with 1:55 left in the second and took a brief lead on two occasions in the third, but couldn't go back to Jakubicek inside, who scored the team's first 7 points in the third.
"A lot of it is their defense, they play such good defense," Trojans coach Adam McCloud said. "But I'm proud of our effort. Our team keeps getting better. We lost to them by 15 the last time and to add that opportunity at the end, you feel pretty good where we're at as a team."