There were more eyes on the Jacobs boys basketball team Saturday afternoon than just those in the gym to see a 60-36 Fox Valley Conference win over Crystal Lake South.
With seeding votes for the upcoming Class 4A Jacobs sectional due by Wednesday, 10 other coaches in the same sub-sectional are paying close attention to how the Golden Eagles are adjusting without all-area guard Ryan Phillips. Jacobs' leading scorer will miss up to four weeks with a broken metacarpal bone in his right ring finger suffered against Hampshire on Feb. 2.
Phillips hasn't played since the first half against Hampshire. Jacobs won that game 45-38 and prevailed 41-29 at Huntley on Tuesday, but those scoring outputs were its third and second lowest this season, respectively.
However, Jacobs (20-3, 12-0) looked as sharp offensively against Crystal Lake South (9-14, 5-7) as it has all season, Phillips or not.
Senior guard Kameron Mack scored the first 7 points of the game, assisted twice by senior guard Ajani Rodriguez, and junior guard Matt McCoy came off the bench to sink a pair of 3-pointers as the Golden Eagles raced to a 19-3 lead through a quarter.
"It was a point for us," said Mack, who finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. "Obviously, (Phillips) is gone but we're not going to shy away at all. If anything, it was a call for us to go even that much harder and to come out that much stronger. I think we're going to be better for it and when he comes back we'll be a better team."
Jacobs dominated in all phases to beat the Gators for the third time this season, thereby extending its winning streak to 6 and its FVC winning streak to 20. The Eagles won the rebounding battle 29-13 and forced 21 turnovers while limiting theirs to 13.
"Everybody thinks 'Oh, we've got them now. Phillips is gone,'" said Jacobs senior guard Nik Balkcom, who had 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists. "I think this shows the rest of the league we're fine. We can still put it on you. We can still win."
"We're going to keep having the attitude that we can take out any team and keep moving forward," added Rodriguez, who had 5 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Jacobs led 38-20 at halftime after shooting 14 of 27 from the floor and 5 of 12 from 3-point range. The Golden Eagles shot 51 percent for the game (23 of 45) and 33 percent from 3-point range (7 of 21).
"They've got a lot of kids that can play," Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage said. "I knew they'd have that step-up mentality. You could see it in them. You have to give those guys credit. They attacked us well, knocked down shots, got out in transition and turned us over. They pretty much did everything they wanted to. It was a tough one to sit and watch at times."
Senior guard Jack Murphy came off the bench to sink three 3-pointers. He led CL South with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting but he was the exception. Overall, the Gators shot 35 percent from the field (13 of 37). Nine other players scored, led by 5 points apiece from senior Kyle Leva and senior Jonathan Holloway.