Gators thwart Jacobs’ comeback
Crystal Lake South saw its once-comfortable lead shrink from 18 points early in the third quarter to three less than eight minutes later.The Gators needed someone to take control and the logical choice, third-year starting guard Cooper LePage, embraced the moment.After Cameron Miller’s free throw, LePage drove for a layup, hit a jumper from the free-throw line, then sank a pair of free throws to push South’s lead back to 10 points.“I saw the game was getting tight and my teammates got me wide-open looks,” LePage said. “I was just knocking shots in. Really good flares and down screens and good offense off the ball by my teammates. It was exciting. The goal is to get wins, it’s not about points. Whatever I can do to let our team win, I’m going to do it.”LePage finished with a game-high 23 points as the Gators held off Jacobs, 54-49, in their Fox Valley Conference boys basketball game Friday night at the Eagles’ Nest.LePage’s 3-pointer early in the third had given South (6-2, 4-0 FVC) a 38-20 lead. Just after that, Jacobs caught fire, led by guard Brett Schlicker, who scored 20 and hit three 3s in the third quarter.When Amari Owens made a 3 and Jackson Martucci hit a 16-footer, Jacobs (1-8, 0-4) had hacked the lead to 44-41.“We played 2 1/2 quarters of really good basketball,” said Gators coach Matt LePage, Cooper’s father. “We were playing well and Jacobs went on a run and our experienced guys, Cooper and Isaiah (Kirkeeng) tried to do what they could to withstand that run.“Jacobs was hot in their gym, it was a tough spot for us there. We did just enough to win. (Cooper) made plays throughout the night and he had to do that for us to get out with the win.”Cooper LePage hit 9 of 13 shots, with three 3s. Arnav Jain made his first four shots of the game, all 3s, to help the Gators get their lead. They led, 30-15, at halftime and Jacobs had hit only 4 of 19 shots. Three of those were 3s or it would have been a larger deficit.Golden Eagles coach Jimmy Roberts was frustrated by his team’s defense in the first half as well.“The whole thing about that first half, it’s an us thing,” Roberts said. “To be down 15 and give up 30 points it was a lot of self-inflicted things with us not being locked in and ready to go and compete. The second half they did a good job fighting back. We just can’t have first halves mentally the way we did.”Schlicker’s 20 was his career-high, he made 7 of 14 shots and scored 15 in the second half. Jackson Martucci added 12 for the Eagles.“Coach gave us a good speech, got us amped up and told us what to do and we executed it,” Schlicker said. “We could always be better though. We came out hot. My teammates got me downhill, hitting me in the corner, got off to a good start and I kept feeling it.”Kirkeeng added 11 points for the Gators. South shot 21 of 41 from the field, but committed 15 turnovers to Jacobs’ eight.