CRYSTAL LAKE – Jacobs boys basketball coach Jim Hinkle, always one with a quick wit, delivered another gem after Friday’s IHSA Class 4A Jacobs Regional championship, his final game as a coach.
As Hinkle lauded Crystal Lake Central for its 65-58 victory, he had one important question: “Who the heck is this Vasquez guy? He got 13 in the first half. We didn’t even talk about him in practice. You know?”
Hinkle was talking about Tigers senior forward Jake Vanscoyoc, who usually guards the opponents’ leading scorer, but also is an adept scorer who can operate all over. Vanscoyoc did not miss a shot in the first half while helping Central take control in a game it led from start to finish.
Central has shown that kind of balance all season. Each of the Tigers’ top six players has been the scoring leader at one time this season. That balance – with five starters averaging at least 8.8 points a game – is a big reason Central (25-3) will meet Boylan (20-8) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in a DeKalb Sectional semifinal.
“That’s why we have the record we have, because we don’t have to rely on one or two guys,” Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. “We have six guys that, on any night, can carry us. And usually two or three of them do. We just find the guy who’s doing it that night. That’s huge, you have to have that consistency.”
Czeslawski has praised his team all season for its selflessness. Guard Corban Murphy leads the team with a 16.6 scoring average, followed by guard Brad Knoeppel (10.0), Vanscoyoc (9.0), forward David Panicko (8.8) and center Kyle Fleck (8.7). Sixth man D.J. Thomas also has had some big games and has 20 3-pointers.
“It’s awesome, when someone’s not playing as well, another guy just steps up,” Vanscoyoc said. “That’s what’s good about this team. I never get nervous because someone’s always going to step up.”
It also can make Central harder to scout since an opponent, as in Jacobs’ case, may be looking for one player only to have another start hitting shots.
“You never really know [who it will be],” Fleck said. “That’s what I love about our team, we have so many players who can score and they all show it at some point. It’s hard to stop.”