CARPENTERSVILLE — For the first quarter and much of the second half the Jacobs boys basketball team controlled all aspects of the game against rival Dundee-Crown in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division game.
But the Chargers (15-5 overall, 6-2 FVC Valley), with the help of a rowdy home crowd, took control of the game with two minutes left in the first half and never let go en route to a 60-44 victory over the visiting Golden Eagles.
The Chargers ended the half on a 10-3 run highlighted by two contested buckets from Brandon Rodriguez — one at the buzzer — and a 3-pointer from Dylan Kissack as the crowd erupted.
"This is the best student support I've ever seen," said Chargers head coach Lance Huber.
The students pitched in during school and bought a giant printout of Huber's face which the student section proudly waved. "For a regular season game, this was simply amazing. They've been outstanding all season long and their support was fantastic and you couldn't ask for anything else."
The run at the end of the half coupled with the electric crowd support proved to be a big momentum switch in favor of the Chargers and Golden Eagles head coach Jim Hinkle said that series of events was the turning point in the game.
"I thought they made us uncomfortable tonight and they were able to remain comfortable," Hinkle said. "I also thought the last two minutes of the first half turned the whole game around. Their defense really took over and they hit some big buckets. Rodriguez hit two buckets with a hand in his face. They weren't cheapies.
"They kept us from getting into our offense and didn't allow us to have a smooth flow. I think they got a little pumped up. They had a nice crowd here that gave them some adrenaline and it carried throughout the game."
The Golden Eagles (11-10, 4-3) won earlier in the year in double overtime behind big games from Nick Ledinsky and Will Schwerdtmann and the Chargers entered Friday's game with that loss in the back of their heads. Along with a 14-point effort, Rodriguez stepped up defensively and helped hold Ledinsky and Schwerdtmann to 11 combined points while staying out of familiar territory — foul trouble.
"Schwerdtmann and Ledinsky lit us up the first game. They were fantastic," Huber said. "Brandon and Kissack know that when they had a good game and they were assigned to guard them you want another shot at proving what you can do and that was some pretty big motivation for them."
"We just had a lot of defensive intensity," Kissack said.
The forward scored a game-high 16 points.
"We knew from the first game that we needed to come in here and get some defensive stops and that's what we were able to do. It's great playing Jacobs because of the on-court rivalry and the way the fans show up because they really get us pumped up and carry us through the lulls.
Hinkle, who is retiring after this season, had some nice words to say about coaching his final game at rival Dundee-Crown.
"It's hard for people to believe but I'm always rooting for them all of the other games," he said. "I don't hate these people, I love these people. I loved it when I was here and I'm at a great place at Jacobs and I am blessed to have people on both sides of the river and I've enjoyed it all. It's been fun."