ALGONQUIN – On one end, Jacobs was playing stifling defense that kept Dundee-Crown from scoring a field goal for a span of 13:35.
On the other end, the Golden Eagles were making enough shots to build a 17-point lead.
Still, Jacobs sensed D-C was not done. Not in a District 300 rivalry game. Not in a Class 4A Jacobs Regional semifinal.
Chargers guard Brandon Rod-riguez was almost unstoppable with 24 second-half points, but the Eagles withstood D-C’s furious rally for a 50-45 victory Wednesday night at the Eagles’ Nest.
“These games have always gone like that,” said Jacobs forward Nick Ledinsky, who scored 12 points. “We knew they would come out hard, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. I’ve never played in a bigger game in my life. I don’t want this to end.”
Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle, who is retiring, will coach at least one more game. The No. 3-seeded Eagles (18-14) will play top-seeded Crystal Lake Central (24-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the regional championship.
“When your career’s on the line, it’s fun to play in a game like that,” Hinkle said. “We’ve been looking at this game for a long time. As soon as the regional assignments came out, you knew what it would come down to.”
Jacobs built a 30-13 lead in the third quarter when Rodriguez worked his way inside and scored, ending a field-goal drought that went back to 2:41 of the first quarter. The 6-foot-1 senior was just getting started.
Rodriguez scored 15 points in the third quarter, D-C (22-6) forced six turnovers and got back into the game.
“I felt it after my first basket and wanted to get us back into the game,” Rodriguez said. “We’re mostly seniors, we had to leave it all out on the court. We just didn’t execute at all offensively or defensively in the first half.”
Jacobs managed to hit some big shots to keep at least a four-point lead through the fourth quarter. The Eagles hit 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to help seal the outcome.
Sophomore point guard Chrishawn Orange led the Eagles with 15 points, 10 in the second half.
“Our defense was what won the game,” Orange said. “We didn’t want our season to end either and we came out on top. We lost at their place, but we wanted to show them this is our house.”
D-C cut the lead to 44-40 with just more than a minute to play, but missed on a chance to get closer. Ryan Billings then hit a pair of free throws and Orange made 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute.
“B-Rod just kept us in the game, basically,” Chargers coach Lance Huber said. “Jacobs played a great game and executed their game plan very well. We couldn’t get many open looks in the first half. They made it hard for us to move the ball around.”