When the Jacobs boys basketball team led by 8 points on two separate occasions in the first half, Dundee-Crown center Gabe Bergeron never lost hope.
When the senior took a hit across the face during a nasty spill to the ground in the third quarter on an intentional foul and was forced to sit for a short time, he still had hope.
Even when Kameron Mack converted a fast break layup with 3:24 left in the game that gave Jacobs a 3-point lead late, Bergeron still remained hopeful, which surely turned into joy in the end.
Bergeron answered right back with a game-tying 3-pointer and watched Jack Orndahl sink a go-ahead corner 3 on the next Chargers' possession with 2:12 left that put D-C up for good, allowing the No. 6 Chargers to upset No. 2 Jacobs 45-40 in stunning fashion for the Class 4A Dundee-Crown regional championship Friday.
"We knew we were the underdogs, that was our edge," said Bergeron, who helped D-C to its first regional title since 2009 with 12 points and 8 rebounds. "We had nothing to lose they had everything to lose. I know I never lost hope during that game. We fought the entire time. We deserved it. We have been fighting all year. We were able to do the little things and we got it done."
Not only did Dundee-Crown punch its ticket to Wednesday's 7 p.m. sectional semifinal against Rockford Jefferson at Jacobs, the Chargers snapped a 12-game skid against the Golden Eagles (25-4) dating back to 2013. The Chargers, whose only losses came at the hands of Jacobs in their last 12 games, used a 13-5 run in the final 3 minutes and a 23-15 advantage in the second half to snap an 11-game Jacobs win streak and dash the hopes for a fourth Golden Eagles regional title in 5 years. D-C's 25-18 rebound edge, good help defense along with its effort to stop the drive gave Jacobs a lot of contested layup attempts, forcing the Eagles to struggle all night.
"When you lose to them two times in a year you get that sour taste in your mouth," said D-C reserve Josh Raby, who posted a game-high 14 points off the bench. "We had one more shot at them thankfully and we made the most of it."
D-C grabbed its first lead on Bergeron's free throws late in the third quarter, but trailed until Orndahl's 3 gave D-C some breathing room. Raby followed up Nik Baklcom's layup with a shot in the lane for a 40-37 led with 1:17 left and D-C wrapped it up at free throw line ending on a 16-for-25 clip. But Orndahl picked the right time to make his only shot of the night.
"Considering that was probably the most open I was the entire night, I was definitely pulling it," said Orndahl, who sent the crowd into a craze. "It felt good coming off and I have shot a thousand of those in this gym, that's what so great about having regionals here."
Jacobs, which had won earlier at D-C on February 23, shot 34 percent on 44 field goal attempts. Even worse, the Eagles went 4 of 16 from the stripe and started out 0-for 9 from the line, as sophomore Jaden Henderson, who led Jacobs with 11 points, sank its first from the stripe with 4:51 left in the fourth. Things looked good after shooting 47.6 percent in the first half but D-C's defense held Jacobs to 15 points in the second half on 5 of 23 shooting. Mack finished with 7 with 5 rebounds while Balkcom had 5 points.
"It's a little bit of a numb feeling, there's not a whole lot of emotion to it," said Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts, who mentioned the team missed a lot of shots it normally hits. "It turned into some huge things that proved to be too much to overcome and one of those things where things snowballed for us in the wrong direction."