The St. Charles East boys basketball team was given some disappointing news before Monday's game against Jacobs at the inaugural Woodstock North Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic.
Starting senior guard Drew Vazquez, who averaged 18 points in the Saints' previous three games, was having his ankle taped by the Woodstock North training staff when he was informed it might be broken.
Vazquez injured the ankle in the second quarter of Saturday's 63-57 victory over Glenbard West but finished the game. He took part in the pregame shootaround on Monday, but was sent to the hospital for X-rays after learning of the possible break and did not play against Jacobs.
Faced with the sudden absence of a key player, the Saints responded by forging an 8-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to build a 7-point lead en route to a 57-50 nonconference victory.
Inspired St. Charles East senior Zack Burns, a teammate and friend of Vazquez since the fourth grade, scored 21 points to lead the Saints (6-9) to their second straight victory and third in four games. Jacobs (3-11) dropped its third decision in a row.
"I felt I needed to go in there and do it for Drew," Burns said. "I think everyone came together and said, 'We need to do this for him.'"
The competitive contest was tied at 29 at halftime and featured 11 lead changes. The Saints built a 41-36 lead with 2:14 left in the third quarter on Spencer Motley's 3-pointer, but the Golden Eagles pulled back within 42-41 on a pair of free throws by Pawel Korzec early in the final period. That's when St. Charles East made its move.
Burns scored twice on inbounds plays and Jess Streidl scored a pair of low post baskets, all within a span of 1:56, to put St. Charles East ahead 50-43 with 4:18 left in the game.
The Golden Eagles came within 52-48 on a layup by T.J. Brooks on an inbounds play with 1:32 remaining, but Burns canned 4 straight free throws to up the lead to 8 points with 43 seconds left.
"We played really well in the fourth quarter," Saints coach Brian Clodi said. "We're real proud of our kids to fight through adversity like that. It's a big win for us. It's our sixth win of the year and we're starting to come. We beat a Glenbard West team and we beat (Jacobs). And to do it with without Drew, I'm real proud of these guys."
It was yet another competitive loss for Jacobs, which has dropped 6 games this season by 7 points or less.
"We just fell apart a couple of times on defense. We could have had that game," said Jacobs forward Connor Conzelman. The freshman led the Golden Eagles in scoring (14 points) and rebounds (9).
Jacobs, which played without starting forward Sean Meyer (concussion), paid the price for its two-minute defensive lapse.
"It seems like that's how we play most of our games lately," Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said. "We stay right with people most of the game and then there's a one- or two-minute spurt we get outscored by 6 or 8 and that's the final margin. That's happened to us three or four times now.
"And usually in the midst of that are a few turnovers, missed assignments and things we think we can correct, so we just keep on working to correct them."
Jacobs guard Matt Schmidt sank three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points while Korzec added 9 points. Streidl scored 11 points for the Saints and sophomore guard Charlie Fisher contributed 9 points and 8 rebounds.