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Jacobs senior Nick Ledinsky lifts a three-pointer over Dundee-Crown's Brandon Rodriguez on Wednesday in Algonquin. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Jacobs survived a blast from the “B-Bomb” on Wednesday and handed longtime coach Jim Hinkle at least one more game on the sidelines — a regional title clash against top-seeded Crystal Lake Central on Friday.
Brandon Rodriguez went off with sudden explosiveness for Dundee-Crown and finished with 25 points after being held to two over the game’s first 18:45, but the Golden Eagles found a way to get the big stops and big free throws down the stretch to withstand the Chargers’ second-half rally for a 50-45 semifinal victory at the Class 4A Jacobs Regional in Algonquin.
“Those games have always just gone like that throughout our high school career,” Jacobs senior forward Nick Ledinksky said about D-C wiping out 13 points of a 17-point second-half deficit. “It was nothing that we couldn’t handle, really.”
Crishawn Orange scored 15 points and Ledinsky 12 and third-seeded Jacobs (16-14) sank 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:02 after the second-seeded Chargers (19-8) had cut the deficit to 44-40.
“They embarrassed us pretty good over at their place last game,” said Hinkle, the former D-C coach who is retiring after this season. “We’ve been looking at this game for a long time.
“I’ve been looking at it all year. As soon as we knew what the regional was we knew what it would come down to, and it did.”
It came down to Jacobs holding D-C to only 13 first-half points while building a 12-point halftime edge. Then Lake Ojo put down a rebound and Orange a three-pointer for a 30-13 lead with 6:52 left in the third quarter that forced a D-C timeout.
“I felt like they made it hard for us to move the ball around and get some reversals,” Chargers coach Lance Huber said. “We kind of had guys with the ball too long. They made us play stationary.”
Then Rodriguez became less stationary. The 6-foot-1 senior guard scored 19 points in a span of 7½ minutes as the Chargers dialed up their own defense to help cause eight Jacobs turnovers.
Rodriguez made two three-pointers and hit 8-of-10 second-half shots from the floor at one point midway through the fourth quarter, but then cooled off to miss three of his last four as the rally never got the Chargers closer than four.
“Brandon Rodriguez just kept us in the game, basically,” Huber said. “We had it down to four with the ball, but we couldn’t get a score when we needed one.”
Orange got inside for a big layup off Pat Nerja’s assist with 3:05 left and pushed the lead back to 42-36. D-C cut it to 44-40 after Dylan Kissack’s 10-footer in the lane and then got the ball back, but missed shots inside by both Kissack and Rodriguez gave Jacobs the chance to start a procession to the foul line. Orange hit 3-of-4 and Ryan Billings three of his final four to seal the win.
Hinkle said that during the week he had calculated his Jacobs teams over 17 years had a 19-18 record against Dundee-Crown.
“Now it’s 20-18,” he said. “So we don’t have to kiss my sister on that one.”