Crystal Lake South denies Jacobs' comeback, stay in FVC mix
The Crystal Lake South boys basketball team absorbed the counterpunch of comeback-minded Jacobs and finished off a 40-35 Fox Valley Conference win Saturday afternoon.
Defense helped the Gators bolt to a 22-8 halftime lead. Their 1-3-1 half-court trap caused 13 first-half turnovers and limited the Golden Eagles to 1-of-11 shooting from 3-point range.
"That's pretty much what our defense is designed to do," CL South senior Ben Geske said, "and we did it pretty well."
Jacobs (8-11, 2-6) turned the tables in the second half by causing 9 turnovers. The Golden Eagles outscored the Gators 13-3 in the third quarter to draw within 25-21.
"We just kind of lost our mojo a bit there," said 6-foot-5 Crystal Lake South senior Matt Reall, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Jacobs senior guard Matt McCoy scored all 10 of his points in the second half. His third 3-pointer drew the Golden Eagles within 35-33 with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter. It was as close as they would get.
Reall was fouled on the perimeter 15 seconds later and drained both bonus free throws to give the Gators a 4-point lead.
Jaden Henderson, Jacobs' leading scorer with 12 points, missed a driving attempt at the other end, and the tip attempt by James Hayes likewise would not fall.
CL South junior Ian Gorken grabbed the rebound, and senior Ryan Lawson split two free throws with 43 seconds to play to give South a 38-33 lead.
Henderson answered with a successful baseline drive with 18.5 seconds remaining that made it a 1-possession game.
However, Geske was fouled with 11.1 seconds left and made both free throws to ice the win. The Gators sank 8-of-11 fourth-quarter free throws to keep Jacobs at bay.
"At the end we settled down," Reall said. "It was a physical game, so we finally got to the line and hit our shots."
Jacobs got back in it by taking better care of the ball. The Golden Eagles committed only 4 second-half turnovers.
"I probably had us a little too stationary in the first half," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "We were just kind of standing. I'll say that's my fault.
"The second half we did something a little different. We just spread out and told our guys to look forward and go. The first half we kept catching and looking at traffic coming at us and looking at our feet. We were tentative."
It was the second straight FVC victory for Crystal Lake South (13-6, 5-3), which surpassed last year's win total of 12.
The Gators have endured 2 more losses than FVC leader Crystal Lake Central (12-5, 6-1), but still consider themselves firmly in the title chase.
"The Fox Valley is going to be tough," CL South coach Matt LePage said. "You're going to have to make shots. If you don't make shots, you've got to have good defense to hold you in those games, which kind of happened to both teams here. We just got lucky enough to win it."