Fast start sends West Aurora past Jacobs
After blocking 9 shots in a key Upstate Eight Valley win over South Elgin on Friday, West Aurora's Jared Crutcher had a tough act to follow.
The 6-foot-5 senior did his best, grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds to go with 4 blocked shots and 13 points in the Blackhawks' 59-47 win over Jacobs Saturday night on West Aurora's annual Hall of Fame night in Aurora.
Crutcher and his teammates left quite an impression on the Golden Eagles (14-3), ranked No. 11 in the Daily Herald Top 20.
"That's a phenomenal team, we haven't played a team like that all year," Jacobs senior Ryan Phillips said. "Very impressed with them. They are big, they are athletes, they can all shoot the ball. No. 10 (Crutcher) must have had 30 rebounds. And they are quick. We tried to hold our own but they did a great job."
Phillips caught fire early, tallying his team's first 13 points. Over that same stretch, all five starters for No. 2 West Aurora (12-4) scored as the Blackhawks built a 27-13 lead before Nikolas Balkcom scored on a backdoor cut for the first Jacobs basket besides Phillips.
Ben Young started the scoring for West Aurora with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Crutcher scored on a third-chance putback, Damian Virgen put in a layup off Camron Donatlan's steal and assist, Crutcher scored in transition on Traevon Brown's assist, and Brown's drive made it 11-0.
Young capped the 25-point first quarter with his third 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer on Donatlan's pass.
"I was a little off last week so I took a lot of shots so I was hoping to come out strong like that," Young said. "Last year we struggled with ball movement and this year we're moving the ball and everyone is getting touches."
Down by as much as 34-15 in the second quarter, Jacobs pulled within 35-22 at halftime and 44-35 after three quarters.
Kameron Mack's conventional 3-point play got Jacobs as close as 46-40 with 6:01 remaining. Donatlan responded with back-to-back baskets to put the margin back at 50-40, and the Golden Eagles got no closer than 8 points the rest of the way.
"It took a little bit for us to get involved in the fight," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "They had a 25-point first quarter and after that we settled in and competed and I thought we were fine."
Phillips led Jacobs with 15 points, all in the first half. Johnson credited the defense of Virgin and Moshe Rogers face-guarding Phillips in the second half.
"We knew we couldn't let him go off," Crutcher said. "We fought over screens and played help defense and rotated over."
Balkcom added 14 points, and Ajani Rodriguez had 6 points and 4 steals. Jaden Henderson hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter that brought Jacobs within 42-35, the only points off the bench for either team.
"We only have two nonconference opportunities so we try to play as high of level of competition as possible and play in some big-time, postseason environments," Roberts said. "That's why we were looking forward to this game especially playing on the road. I think it was a good game for both of us."
Donatlan (16 points, 9 rebounds), Young (14 points) and Brown (10 points) all joined Crutcher in double figures.
"I don't know what else to say about Jared Crutcher," Johnson said. "He gets it as a senior."