Balkcom, Mack help Jacobs past Palatine
For a while there Saturday afternoon, Jacobs' boys basketball team didn't recognize itself.
A lot of that had to do with Palatine's stubborn defense and gritty rebounding effort.
And a lot of it had to do with Jacobs just not knocking down what open looks it could generate. Also playing a role were 9 first-half turnovers and just as many personal fouls in the matchup of second-place pool finishers in the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic.
The second half was a whole 'nother story, though.
Kameron Mack started it for Jacobs with a long 3 over Palatine's zone. High scorer Nikolas Balkcom (19 points) followed with one of his own, and when Ryan Philips tacked on another, Jacobs was on its way to a hard-earned 58-47 win in the de facto third-place game of the tournament.
The Golden Eagles (3-1), who dropped a heartbreaker Friday night in overtime to York, turned up the defensive pressure, too -- particulary Balkcom.
"We just got finished talking about how great a defensive player he is," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said after chatting with his assistants. "Nik did a great job," especially when matched up against Palatine's dangerous Lamon Berry.
"We pride ourselves on defense," Balkcom said.
He inspired his teammates, too. Palatine was limited to 7 points in the third quarter after taking a 27-26 lead into intermission. Mack and Balkcom combined to outscore Palatine in the decisive third quarter and Jacobs hit four 3s in the period on 7 attempts, finally breaking down Palatine's zone.
In the first quarter Jacobs shot 1 of 6 from 3-point range against that same zone and trailed by as much as 15-8 early in the second quarter.
Palatine was flourishing on the shooting of Luke Garrett (13 points) and Johnny O'Shea (10), who combined to shoot 4 of 5 in the first half, plus the hard work inside of Cortez Hogans (9 points) and David Balanganayi, who matched his bulk against that of 6-8 Joacheim Price.
It was Price and Matt McCoy who came off the bench in the first half and stunted Palatine's run, McCoy hitting two crucial 3-pointers with starting guards Balkcom and Ajani Rodriguez in foul trouble.
That enabled Roberts to protect Rodriguez and Balkcom into the second half, and with them on the floor and Mack lighting it up, Jacobs was in command.
"Kameron Mack was Kameron Mack tonight," Roberts said.
For Palatine (2-2), the second-half letdown followed the same pattern against Stevenson the night before and had coach Eric Millstone looking for ways to sustain effort for the entirety of the game.
"Our kids played well," he noted, "but against Jacobs, you've got to do it for longer stretches. We've just got to play better for longer stretches of time."
The Pirates got balanced scoring from Hogans, Berry, O'Shea and Garrett and strong efforts from Balanganayi and Ben Storm. But Jacobs' deadeye shooting and solid defense was too much to overcome.
"We focused on getting open looks," said Balkcom, who said the keys were playing as a team and taking care of possessions. "In the second half, we made some shots."