This could be the year the Jacobs boys basketball team gets back to the title game of its own holiday tournament.
The Golden Eagles haven't won the Hinkle Holiday Classic since namesake Jim Hinkle coached them to three straight titles from 2006-2008.
Overall, Jacobs has excelled in fourth-year coach Jimmy Roberts' tenure at the Algonquin school, winning 70 of 97 games, consecutive Fox Valley Conference Valley Division titles and two regional championships.
Though the Golden Eagles have won their tournament pool each of the last three seasons, further advancement has remained elusive.
"In the three years we've been here as a staff, we've gotten to the championship bracket and lost our next two games and finished 3-2 in the tournament," Roberts said. "Our goal is to play for the championship and win the thing. If it weren't, there would be a problem."
Jacobs (7-0) seeks its first tournament crown since Conrad Krutwig led the program to the 2008 title with a 28-point, 8-rebound performance in an 89-70 victory over St. Charles North.
Conrad's 6-foot-8 "little" brother, Loyola-signee Cameron Krutwig, is the driving force behind the 2016 team. The light-on-his-toes big man averages 15 points, 14 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Krutwig's floor vision makes him an effective ball distributor when Jacobs plays from the inside out. That's why he's second on the team with 2.1 assists per game.
Krutwig notched 2 assists Saturday as the Golden Eagles tied a school record with 12 3-pointers in a 78-31 victory over Hampshire. They shot 12 of 20 from beyond the arc, led by 2 apiece from Anthony Perry, Cooper Schwartz, Ajani Rodriguez and Joe Hogle.
Krutwig has lots of help on a team that scores 59.6 points per game and limits opponents to 38.9. Schwartz, a senior guard, averages 11.7 points and 2 assists. Junior guard Ryan Phillips scores 8.7 ppg on 25-of-53 shooting and 6-4 senior forward Mason Materna averages 7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
The 16-team tournament opens Saturday with an 8-game slate. Because approximately half the schools involved have exams early next week, tournament pool play concludes Dec. 22-23. Championship bracket games, including the semifinals and championship game, take place Dec. 26-27.
The Golden Eagles open tournament play against Marian Central (4-2) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. They play Sullivan (0-6) on Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. and conclude pool play against Bartlett (3-6) on Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Rockford Boylan (8-1) is the defending tournament champion. The Titans defeated Zion-Benton 68-67 in the 2015 title game. NIC-10-leader Boylan's only setback this season was a 78-70 loss to North Lawndale at the Grant Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 22. Boylan competes in the same pool with Prairie Ridge (6-3), Lakes (3-5) and Clark (3-2).
Barrington (6-1) and Zion-Benton (4-1) will mix it up in Pool III along with Crystal Lake South (4-5) and Johnsburg (4-3).
Pool IV could be the most unpredictable grouping, featuring Cary-Grove (5-3), Grant (3-4), Rockford Jefferson (3-6) and Streamwood (1-8).