Seyller sparks Burlington Central in FVC semifinal win
A slight back injury sustained in practice earlier in the week wouldn't keep Carson Seyller out for any longer than he had to.
Seyller, a Burlington Central junior, missed the Fox Valley Conference quarterfinal win over Crystal Lake Central on Tuesday. But he was more than healthy enough to help lift the Rockets, 57-46, over Jacobs in Thursday's semifinal.
With the win, the Rockets (15-1, 9-0) advanced to Saturday's tournament championship against Cary-Grove, who outlasted Huntley in overtime.
Perhaps Seyller's most prominent impact came during the third quarter, when he scored nine points -- all on 3-pointers -- to sustain a dwindling Rockets lead that was down to four early in the quarter. After his third one, Seyller flexed a little bit going back down the court.
"Once I hit one, I just wanted to keep shooting," said Seyller, who had 14 points and 4 rebounds. "Get the rhythm going, get the team going. I think that's what boosted our energy a bunch. Like [teammate Nick Carpenter] said: Good defense always leads to offense and that's what got us going there."
The Rockets took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Jacobs had a bit of fight left.
Seyller quickly picked up his fourth foul and Jacobs guard Zach Leahy hit a pair of free throws. James Hayes followed with a layup and converted a three-point play to make it 44-39 with 5:24 remaining in the game.
Carpenter shortly after secured a critical offensive rebound after a flurry of Rockets misses, which he converted into a pair of free throws. Seyller followed with a layup and Carpenter again hit a pair of free throws to go up 11.
"My shot wasn't falling, so I was just trying to do anything I could to help the team," said Carpenter, who had 8 points and 7 rebounds. "I thought just working hard enough on the offensive glass would help. I ended up getting fouled and making the free throws. That really gave us a boost."
Leahy hit his fifth 3 of the contest, but the Rockets kept the pressure on. Drew Scharnowski hit two free throws and then blocked a Leahy 3 attempt. On the fast break, Scharnowski connected on a layup and converted the three-point play to put the game out of reach.
"I think it starts on the defensive end with our talk and then our footwork and coming together working together as a team," Carpenter said.
"I felt like every time Jacobs made a run, we executed well offensively, got a stop [and] we had a lot of guys make some big shots, whether it was outside [the arc], or at the free-throw line or a drive and a pass at the right time," Rockets coach Brett Porto said. "Just really good, I thought, good offensive execution in the second half to go along with some key stops at certain times."
Jacobs (8-5, 6-3) closed the first half on a 7-0 run to pull within five at halftime. And, despite some key shooting in stretches in the second half, it couldn't quite pull enough momentum to finish the job.
"Our kids, we fight and they play hard. That's what they do," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "We always have tremendous effort. We just didn't play well enough to beat a good basketball team. We did a good job getting it back to a five-point game at half, but we had 12 turnovers in the first half."
Jacobs was led by Leahy's 22 points, while Robert Pennel had 11 points. Hayes had 5 points.
"We had the last possession in the first half ... we turned it over," Roberts said. "Against good teams, those are maybe five or six turnovers in the first half; Winning the battle at the end of quarters -- which we turned it over twice at end of quarters -- [so] they did a good job fighting. But, at the end of the day, we just didn't play well enough and clean enough to beat a good basketball team."