Jefferson jumps on Dundee-Crown early
Dundee-Crown's Cinderella postseason came to a crashing end Wednesday night in the semifinals of the Class 4A Jacobs sectional.
The Chargers turned the ball over 12 times in the first half without forcing a single one, falling behind by 13 points after one quarter and 24 at halftime on the way to a 77-48 loss to Rockford Jefferson.
After upsetting No. 3 seed St. Charles East and No. 2 Jacobs to win a regional last week, the Chargers (17-13) couldn't keep the momentum going Wednesday.
"Significantly," Chargers coach Lance Huber said when asked how much better the J-Hawks were than last week's opponents.
"I told my wife I had a bad feeling coming in. I saw them play South, I saw them play Central (at regionals last week), they almost looked like they were relieved to get out of there. They could exhale and they really took it to us tonight."
Jefferson (26-6) jumped on Dundee-Crown early. Senior Jack Orndahl put the Chargers on the board three minutes into the game tying the score at 2, and a minute later he nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 5.
But there already were warning signs with three quick turnovers, and the J-Hawks soon broke the game open with a 17-4 run to close the first quarter up 22-9.
"They pressured full court, I think that got to us a little," Orndahl said. "They caused turnovers and that was kind of the game there. We've faced teams this season that played a similar defense and we struggled, but coming off those two games (last week) we were ready for it.
"We wanted to emphasize taking the drive away. They shot incredible. Like coach said, we caught them on a bad night. Playing a team like that, you take away one option and make them do something else, and they were able to do that making 3s."
Jordan Hairston, Dundee-Crown's third-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game, went to the bench with his second foul less than two minutes into the game, and he picked up his third foul 52 seconds into the second quarter.
After sinking four from the 3-point line in the first quarter, the J-Hawks stayed hot in the second with four more 3s including back-to-back shots from NBA range by Jyaire Robinson that made it 34-11.
"This is one of the best games we've had all year in my opinion," said Robinson, whose 18 points led four Jefferson players in double figures. Quillin Dixon and Terry Ford scored 15 points, and My'Quion Garrett had 13.
"We talk about putting four full quarters together and I think we did a good job of that tonight," Robinson said. "A lot of games we come out sluggish and slow so we talked about coming out from the jump."
Joshua Raby, who scored 9 points off the bench for Dundee-Crown including 7 in the first half, ended a 14-2 J-Hawks run to start the second quarter with a 3 of his own. But Dixon gave Jefferson a boost heading to the locker room when he grabbed a long rebound off a missed 3-pointer and knocked down a deep 3 of his own just before the buzzer sounded for a 42-18 halftime lead.
The J-Hawks made 12 from the 3-point arc in the game by eight different players.
"They shot the crap out of it," Huber said. "I knew if they made a bunch of 3s we were in trouble, and they were 19 of 20 at the line. They were very impressive. They were clearly the better team."
Jefferson forced 7 more turnovers in the third quarter and led 60-29 going to the fourth. Orndahl scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the final quarter for the Chargers who outscored Jefferson 19-17.
"We told our kids they are playing the best ball they have all season," Jefferson coach Todd Brannan said of D-C. "When you beat St. Charles East and Jacobs in 48 hours you are a heck of a team. I thought our kids did a great job executing and we made shots tonight which always helps."
Senior Gabe Bergeron added 9 points for the Chargers, who made their first sectional appearance since 2009 and will return everyone except Rhyne Parreno, Bergeron and Orndahl.
"It's great to see the kids get rewarded for working hard," Huber said.
"No one really thought we'd be here," Orndahl said. "I'm proud of the guys."
Jefferson earned a date in Friday's title game against Larkin (22-8), who the J-Hawks defeated 69-58 earlier this season.
"Fortunately for us (Larkin's 6-foot-10 center Jalen) Shaw got in foul trouble," Brannan said of the first meeting. "Our defense was solid that day. It was a Saturday morning, Thanksgiving weekend. Larkin is much, much better than when we played them back in November."