Jacobs boys basketball coach Jimmy Roberts has reiterated all season it's not easy to win every night, let alone on the road or in conference play.
But for the Golden Eagles to push its Fox Valley Conference win streak to 19 Tuesday after a 41-29 win over Huntley without senior Ryan Phillips, there's now an even greater difficulty starring down Jacobs every night.
"After what you go through what we've gone through the past four or five days with Ryan it's especially never easy," said Roberts, who watched Phillips break his right hand in Friday's win over Hampshire.
"I think Friday night it was a little bit of shock; we were still in shock Saturday morning when we met about it but we all said we needed a little bit of time to kind of digest out of the shock. We had a good last couple days of preparation. Our guys are so close so as far as rallying around it's a no-brainer."
Phillips will have surgery Thursday and while the senior hopes to be back in 3 to 4 weeks for the postseason, rally mode was on full display for Jacobs (19-3, 11-0), who showed the Red Raiders what they can do without one of its top guys with a next-man-up mentality.
Kameron Mack went for 20 points and 4 steals while Ajani Rodriguez scored 9 points and 6 rebounds and the Jacobs defense held the Red Raiders (5-18, 1-10) to 40.6 percent clip and just 10 second half points for their fifth-straight win.
"Our margin of error is that much thinner now," said Rodriguez, who had 2 assists. "We have to try to get as close to perfect as possible, we can't let little things slip up and lock up."
Jacobs wasn't perfect from the field, but they thrived off a 52.7 percent clip and only coughed up 6 turnovers. They didn't allow Huntley to attempt a free throw and used a 14-6 second quarter to distance themselves. After Huntley led by 2 to start the second quarter, the Red Raiders were down 6 at the half at hit just 5 shots thereafter.
"We knew we needed to pick it up a little on defense," Mack said. "We knew we could stop them more and they had 13 in the first quarter and 10 for the whole second half. Definitely coming out of halftime we could definitely apply pressure to them and we got some more steals and that allowed us to extend."
Mack eventually finished off Huntley in the fourth after he lit them up for 14 in the first half. Mack's second chance attempt and subsequent layup with 2:36 left in the fourth gave Jacobs a 37-27 lead.
The Golden Eagles nearly had as many points (28) in the paint as Huntley scored all night, who struggled on a 40.6 percent clip and a 31.2 showing in the second half on 5 of 16 shooting.
Davis Pasco led Huntley with 8 points on 2 three-pointers. But after the Red Raiders went 3 of 6 from downtown and made 5 of its 8 shots in the first quarter, it went ice cold.
"We've been cold the last couple of games up and down the lineup," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "They're just a good half court defensive team and we couldn't get anything going in transition and we didn't any second chance opportunities in the second half."