Cary-Grove handles Jacobs again for regional title
Cary-Grove coach Adam McCloud told his players before the game if they lost to Jacobs it would not change who they were as people and that life would go on.
"But then I said, 'You're not going to lose,'" McCloud said. "This wasn't our time to lose. I really believed that, and Jacobs did everything to change that. Our guys never lost sight. You have to have some guys make some plays."
The Golden Eagles played their usual tough man-to-man defense. They hit big shots, especially guard Robert Pennel, who nailed five 3-pointers. They pushed the Trojans harder than either of their Fox Valley Conference games during the season.
Yet in the end, C-G showed why its coach was so confident, making big plays when it needed. Beau Frericks scored the Trojans' first seven points of the fourth quarter and Clark Cunningham hit four free throws to help seal a 45-39 victory Friday for the Class 4A C-G regional championship at Elroy Fitzgerald Gymnasium.
C-G (30-3) advances to play Huntley (27-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the McHenry sectional. The winner moves on to Friday's 7 p.m. title game.
The Trojans join the 2001 C-G team as the only regional champs in school history. They join Jacobs' 2017 team (30-2) as the only FVC teams to reach 30 wins.
"I was coming to camps here when I was a little kid and you see that board (on the gym's south wall) empty up there," Jakubicek said. "It's something you dream of. It feels great with all the work we put in."
Jacobs (18-15) refused to go away quietly.
C-G opened the second half with two Cunningham baskets to finish an 11-0 run, putting the lead at 24-15. Pennel and James Hayes each hit a 3 to narrow the gap. Jaden Henderson opened the fourth quarter with a step-back 3 in the left corner, cutting the lead to 34-33.
"Pennel was lights out," McCloud said. "Credit to Jacobs, they played hard. Their guys made big shots."
C-G led, 36-35, with 3:56 remaining in the game when Frericks swished a 3 from the left corner. Henderson, a 6-4 forward and Jacobs' leading scorer, had to leave briefly with a calf cramp.
On the next possession, Frericks stole the ball and drove for a layup and a 41-35 lead.
"We stayed tough and composed and didn't give them easy looks," said Cunningham, who scored 12 points. "It feels awesome. Our goal was to get our '2020' up there (on the wall). We can still go to state, we can still get up there a couple more times. The goal is to keep going and getting wins."
Pennel led Jacobs with 15 points, Henderson added 11 with seven rebounds.
"We had a good day of practice yesterday and prepped really hard," Pennel said. "We just thought about (seniors) Jaden (Henderson), Andrew (Balkcom) and Brock (Lewis), even though he wasn't playing (with an injury), and of giving them one last ride and cherishing the moments."
Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts was impressed with his team's effort.
"We just said we want to be in a fight in the fourth quarter and see what happens," Roberts said. "They did exactly that. They just fought, fought, fought. That type of environment for a regional championship is fun stuff."