McHenry scores first 17, routs Jacobs

The first time Jacobs faced McHenry in November in Algonquin, the Golden Eagles emerged with a 9-point win.

But Friday night’s Fox Valley Conference rematch between the two teams — this time at McHenry — was a completely different story.

The Warriors reeled off the game’s first 17 points in the sequel, sank eight of their first nine shots, then ran away with a commanding 67-31 victory.

McHenry junior guard Caleb Jett had a game-high 16 points, but his six steals were symbolic of the stellar defensive effort the Warriors produced from start to finish.

The Warriors (16-4 overall, 6-3 FVC) collectively racked up 18 steals from eight different players, using full-court traps and clogging passing lanes the entire night.

“We’ve really been focused on making toughness our identity as a team,” Jett said. “The past week, we’ve emphasized that mentality during practices, so it’s fun to see that work pay off in games.”

McHenry held Jacobs (8-13, 5-5) to just 4 of 23 from the field in the first half and didn’t allow a point until Treval Howard (team-high 11 points, six rebounds) sank a 3 for the Golden Eagles with 1:47 left in the first quarter.

Jacobs was without one of its top ball handlers in junior guard Emaan Thomas, who missed Friday’s contest, but Golden Eagles coach Jimmy Roberts wasn’t using that as any sort of excuse.

“Anytime you fall behind by that many points to start a game, you’re making it extremely difficult on yourself,” Roberts said. “We just missed a ton of shots. And we don’t have McHenry’s size to beat them inside, so when shots don’t fall, it can add up quick.

“We’re just kind of in a spot right now. We just have to get out of that spot. I hoped being [without Thomas] was going to be a sort of rallying cry for us, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

It was McHenry’s ninth consecutive victory. But what may have been equally eye opening was the fact it committed 23 turnovers, yet still won by 36 points.

The Warriors shot (15 for 23) 65.2 percent in the first half and 57.1 percent (28 for 49) the entire game.

A key reason was their emphasis on getting quick looks after pulling down rebounds.

Senior guard Marko Visnjevac (11 points) had seven of his team’s 19 assists. Adam Anwar (nine points, four assists), Marko Stojich (six points, five steals, four assists) and Dylan Hurckes (four steals) put on an unselfish display at both ends of the court.

“I think why we shared the ball so well was largely because we pushed the ball in transition,” Visnjevac said. “We love to spread out wide in transition when we sprint the other way, and it creates odd-man situations and easy baskets.”

Hayden Stone (10 points) was one of three McHenry players to finish in double digits. Ten different Warriors scored as coach Corky Card got 18 combined bench points from six players.

Even though he knows the postseason is on the horizon, and every game can have a large impact on his team’s potential playoff seeding, the red-hot Warriors and Card remain focused on taking it one day at a time.

“We don’t discuss any of those things,” Card said. “Not playoff seeds, not the win streak. The goal is to play well. If we keep playing well, those other things take care of themselves.”

Roberts, meanwhile, hopes his team rebounds quickly. Ben Jurzak finished with 10 points for Jacobs, while Nolan Roper had five.

“We just have to move on from this one,” Roberts said. “There were some good things there tonight. We forced 13 first half turnovers. We settled down and started playing in a rhythm, but it wasn’t soon enough.”

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