Elgin-Larkin, Jacobs vs. Dundee-Crown set to go
The Fox Valley area's two fiercest boys basketball rivalries have produced the season's two best games to date.
Larkin has defeated crosstown rival Elgin twice this season, most recently a 60-51 victory in the Elgin Holiday Tournament title game.
But it was the first meeting — Larkin's 76-73 double-overtime victory on Dec 12 — that will go down as one of the best in the history of the 121-game series, which Elgin still leads 79-42.
Not to be outdone, Jacobs and Dundee-Crown battled through two overtimes on Jan. 15 before the Golden Eagles prevailed 76-66. Host Jacobs tied that game at the regulation buzzer when senior Nick Ledinsky drained a step-back 3-pointer from the corner.
Here's a look at what to expect as each respectful rivalry adds a chapter tonight.
Jacobs (11-9, 4-2) at Dundee-Crown (14-5, 5-2), 7 p.m.: Jacobs boys basketball coach Jim Hinkle directs his final game on the campus of Dundee-Crown, notable since he was the first coach in D-C history.
Hinkle coached for seven seasons at Irving Crown High School and stayed on for two campaigns after Crown and Dundee High Schools merged in 1983-84.
His legacy as coach of both schools can be seen in the team pictures that line the hallway entrance to D-C's gym. That gallery includes photos of Hinkle's FVC championship teams from Irving Crown (1978-79, 1980-81) and Dundee-Crown (1984-85).
When he left to coach at Elgin Community College in 1985-86, Hinkle retained his position as a Dundee-Crown dean. He said this week he still counts many friends among the D-C faculty and he still roots for the Chargers "unless they're on the floor against us."
The last time the Chargers were on the floor against Hinkle's Golden Eagles it took Ledinsky's heroics to rescue Jacobs. His 3-pointer was one of 11 the Eagles sank from long range.
"I actually thought we played pretty good defense most of that game, but sometimes you make shots," D-C coach Lance Huber said. "After watching film, we'll make some adjustments. By now teams pretty much know who you are. I don't think there are any big secrets. So we're just going to come out and try to guard them a little better and, hopefully, get a different result.
"We'll see. If they shoot like (the first game), we're going to have to work really, really hard. Hopefully they won't."
The Golden Eagles make 3-pointers at a 29-percent clip (75 of 259), paced by leading scorer Will Schwerdtmann (31 of 104).
"We have to guard their shooters," D-C senior guard Brandon Rodriguez said. "They had 11 threes last time, but I heard they don't shoot like that anywhere else. They caught fire at home, so we'll see."
Some key contributors for Jacobs include senior guard Lake Ojo (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 32 steals), Ledinsky (7.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 28 steals) and sophomore guard Chrishawn Orange (6 ppg, 2.2 apg, 27 steals).
Dundee-Crown gets the bulk of its points from Rodriguez (14.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg), senior Dylan Kissack (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and senior guard JT Beasley (10.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.9 apg).
Another key player is starting guard Jack Buckley, a gritty player Huber credited with doing the "little things" that have contributed to the Chargers' 3-game win streak.
"We're just hoping to keep it going," Buckley said after Tuesday's unimpressive 44-40 win over McHenry.
Hinkle was in the stands to scout that game and said experience teaches him not to be misled by D-C's lethargic performance in its tuneup.
"I swear, they play their worst ball of the year whenever I scout them," Hinkle said, "and then we play them and they play their best. Scouting just screws it up every time. It's been going on for years. 'Oh, Hinkle is in the stands, let's play horrible.' Then they come out against us and they always look great.
"I expect their best performance. We bring out the best in them. We have for years. I think it will be a great contest."
Larkin (19-3, 8-2) at Elgin (10-10, 2-6), 7:15 p.m.: The Royals have won the first two meetings and must complete the sweep to maintain control of their own destiny in the Upstate Eight River title race.
Larkin is tied in the loss column with St. Charles East (13-7, 6-2), ahead of Geneva (15-5, 6-3).
"They are going to do their best to beat us because they don't want to get swept," Larkin senior guard Quantice Hunter said. "I feel like we have to come out with more energy. It's key we do that because there are going to be a lot of people watching. Sometimes the fans there, the hype can take you out of what you do. If we just stay within the team and execute what we do, I feel we'll be good."
Elgin craves a win for reasons beyond the rivalry angle.
"We need some momentum going into the postseason," senior point guard Arie Williams said. "If we get over this hump, it would give a lot of our guys confidence going down the stretch. We really need this one."
The duel between Williams and Hunter in December's 2OT classic was extraordinary theater. Hunter poured in 32 points, including 6 in the second overtime, to lift the Royals.
Williams and Elgin didn't go down without a fight. The 5-foot-7 point guard, who received his first Division-II offer last week, scored a career- best 39 points, including 8 field goals from 3-point range.
Williams has received special attention from defenses since early December. He was held to 10 points in back-to-back losses to York and Geneva last week but broke out for 19 in Tuesday's win over Streamwood. He remains the Fox Valley area's scoring leader with 22.5 ppg.
"He's a point guard, but he's also like a wing player coming off screens," Hunter said. "He creates for himself. We just have to help a little more, be more active. We have to tire him out as much as we can, deny him the ball, don't let him get anything easy. Make him work for everything."
Larkin counters with a talented starting five of Hunter (16.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 spg, 41 3-pointers), senior guard Quentin Ruff (13.2 ppg, 2.1 spg, 52 3-pointers), McCullum (11.2 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 rpg, 3.8 spg) and junior post players Drew Jones (5.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Brayden Royse (5.6 rpg).
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