ALGONQUIN – Crystal Lake South took one glance at the shot chart at halftime against Cary-Grove and knew what needed to be done.
Even with the Trojans playing a 2-3 zone defense, along with some 1-3-1, South wanted to go inside.
“We realized we didn’t need to put up 3-pointers, just score points,” Gators forward Eric Schiller said. “We were 12 of 14 in the first half in the paint. We just needed to be patient and cut with more backdoors.”
South exhibited patience and took care of the ball to defeat C-G, 58-47, in their IHSA Class 4A Jacobs Regional boys basketball tournament opener Monday at the Eagles’ Nest. The No. 5-seeded Gators (14-14) shot 51.3 percent from the field, 78.2 percent at the free-throw line and committed only seven turnovers to advance to today’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Crystal Lake Central.
“It came down to mentally how to attack their zone,” South coach Matt LePage said. “We said, ‘Don’t take a 3 unless it hits the paint first.’ Our passing was really good. We’re playing well and getting timely scoring.”
Most of it came from forward Austin Rogers, who scored a career-high 29 points, many coming from the low block on feeds from his teammates. He was 10 of 13 from the field and 9 of 10 from the line.
“Our sets were really good,” said Rogers, a 6-foot-1 1/2 junior. “They kept getting me the ball on the block and I just had to make the shots. We didn’t settle for jumpshots. We’re better off when we do that, we’re more aggressive as a team.”
South has five consecutive wins and will get its third crack at Central (24-3) this season. The Gators lost to the Tigers at the Eagles’ Nest in the Jacobs Holiday Classic championship, 65-43.
No. 4-seeded C-G (12-16) cut the margin to 48-43 with 2:12 remaining on Jason Gregoire’s two free throws, but could not get closer. Gregoire, a sophomore guard, led the Trojans with 16 points. Senior forward Steve Plazak added 11.
“Our combination zone slowed them down some, but the longer we played, they found some holes,” Trojans coach Ralph Schuetzle said. “Rogers is so strong, he was really the difference. He knows how to get in there and get fouled. He was the best athlete on the floor, just an outstanding high school basketball player.”