Cary-Grove fends off Larkin's upset bid
Cary-Grove's fans whooped and hollered, relishing one Frank Jakubicek dunk after another.
The 6-foot-8 Trojans' senior forward threw down a reverse dunk, an emphatic one-hander and a two-hander off Beau Frericks' alley-oop for C-G's last three field goals.
The night was not always so carefree for the Trojans though.
Larkin played better than its No. 8 seed and 9-21 record. The Royals caused a little anxiety for more than a half, but No. 1 C-G came out strong in the third quarter and took control for a 48-37 victory Tuesday in the Class 4A Cary-Grove regional at Elroy Fitzgerald Gymnasium.
"We knew we had to calm down," Frericks said. "We've won 28 games, we've been battle-tested. We knew we had it. We just had to keep our composure and it would open up. That's what we did and finished it."
The Trojans (29-3) advance to Friday's 7 p.m. championship game against the winner between No. 4 Jacobs (17-14) and No. 7 Dundee-Crown (13-15) who play Wednesday. C-G will be trying for the second regional title in school history.
"That wasn't an 8 seed. We knew that coming in," Trojans coach Adam McCloud said. "They defended us. We played way too passive early on."
Larkin hit two late 3-pointers in the first quarter and led, 17-14, at halftime, then scored first in the second half.
"They were intense in the beginning of the game," Trojans guard Clark Cunningham said. "They pressured us on the ball and it was getting to us early in the game. We stayed composed and were able to get the win."
Larkin, which started three sophomores, played a deliberate style while building the lead to five points.
"We knew we were fighting an uphill battle, man, and I'm really, really proud of our guys," Royals coach Deryn Carter said. "We thought we had them on the ropes for awhile. But they did what big-time teams are supposed to do and we did what big-time programs are supposed to do. We came in and gave them a fight."
Carter thought an early part of the third quarter made the difference. C-G switched to a 1-3-1 half-court defense to put more pressure on Larkin's patient offense.
"We mixed in that zone because they were holding the ball out there," McCloud said. "It sped them up a little bit and once we got the lead, I knew we could to back to man-to-man because they were going to have to come to us, which was the key."
The Trojans found high-percentage shots in the lane in the third quarter and outscored the Royals, 17-5. C-G hit 6 of 6 in the fourth quarter, culminating with Jakubicek's dunks.
Frericks fed him for the reverse dunk with 3:50 remaining for a 39-27 lead. He jammed home the one-hander with 2:40 to go, then slammed in the alley-oop from Frericks with 1:40 left.
"That's always fun," Jakubicek said. "Being at home we had a nice crowd and the crowd always likes when I dunk the ball. It's definitely fun and it hypes up the team."
Frericks led all players with 17 points, Jakubicek added 12 and Drew Szydlo grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Fernando Perez Jr. led the Royals with 11 points and Damari Wheeler-Thomas scored 10.