Jacobs reaches Sweet Sixteen for first time in school history
Jacobs senior Cam Krutwig is one of the more prolific offensive threats of any boys basketball player in Illinois, one of those who can seemingly score at will.
But on Wednesday night when it came to crunchtime, it was Krutwig's ability to pass the ball with pinpoint accuracy that stood out for the Golden Eagles.
Twice in the fourth quarter Krutwig found open teammates cutting to the basket and fed them for layups that were key points in Jacobs' 60-55 win over Hononegah in the second semifinal of the Class 4A Elgin sectional at Chesbrough Field House.
The win puts Jacobs (29-1) in a sectional final for the first time in program history. The Eagles will take on Larkin (19-14) at 7 p.m. Friday for the right to advance to the Sears Centre supersectional next Tuesday against Fremd or Conant.
"(Hononegah) went to that 1-2-2 and they were trapping the corners," said the Loyola-bound Krutwig, who led Jacobs with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. "Guys were hitting me, I found the cutters and our guys finished shots. That's what won us the game."
That and a strong defensive effort in the second half coupled with cold shooting by Hononegah (23-8).
A fast-paced first half ended with the Indians going on a 5-0 run in the final 1:20 to take a 34-30 lead into the break.
Jacobs was able to make up the deficit by the end of the third quarter, though, using a Krutwig basket with 1:38 left in the period to grab a 44-43 lead. A free throw from Josh Donaldson tied it for the Indians heading to the final quarter.
Tied at 51-51 with 4:15 remaining in regulation after Jacobs' Cooper Schwartz and Hononegah's Jackson Doyle traded 3-pointers, Jacobs went on a 5-0 spurt that ended up being the separation the Eagles needed to control the rest of the game.
First, Schwartz sent a nifty pass to teammate Nikolas Balkcom for a layup. Then, Krutwig teamed up with Ryan Phillips to do the same. Mason Materna split a pair of free throws after that and Jacobs had a 56-51 lead with 3:07 left.
During that run, Hononegah went ice cold, missing 5 straight shots and turning the ball over once. The Indians, who were 15 of 26 shooting in the first half, made just 6 of 27 in the second half including 2-for-10 from 3-point range.
"We took some more contested shots in the second half," said Hononegah coach Mike Miller, whose team was outrebounded 36-22. "I thought the pace was more in our favor in the first half but then we got in a rush against their length and you can't do that against them when they only give you one shot."
The Indians were able to cut the lead to 56-53 on a 3-pointer from Caleb Donaldson with 1:27 left but single free throws from Balkcom at the one-minute mark and Krutwig with 33 seconds to go -- while Hononegah was missing 2 more shots -- restored the 5-point lead for Jacobs.
Max Miller hit a 3 for Hononegah with 22 seconds left to make it 58-55 but Schwartz and Balkcom each made a free throw in the final 15 seconds to send Jacobs to the sectional finals.
"(Hononegah) shot well early but we just talked about keep contesting, keep fighting, keep defending," said fourth-year Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts. "We really settled down in the second half. It was one of those games where we just kept saying we gotta get the lead, we gotta get the lead, we gotta get the lead."
The Eagles were able to overcome an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers by playing tough defense and shooting an efficient 25 of 46 from the field.
"We turned the ball over way too much but we backed it up with our defense," Krutwig said. "They were looking for 3s and we kept stopping them.
"We've been here (the sectional finals) three times now and lost the other two. We'd like to win on Friday night. That would be pretty special."
Materna added 13 points while Balkcom had 11 points and 6 rebounds for Jacobs. Josh Donaldson led Hononegah with 15 points. Miller and Doyle added 13 each.
"It's a huge hump we just got over," said Roberts of reaching the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history. "We had our opportunities the last (two) years."