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Huntley nails down 3rd straight Valley title with ‘D’
By Jerry Fitzpatrick | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/13/2013 12:17 AM

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There’s lockdown defense and then there’s the kind of lockdown-throw-away-the-key-borders-on-solitary-confinement defense Huntley blanketed visiting Jacobs with in a 54-26 division title-clinching victory Tuesday.

Huntley (16-7, 10-1) held Jacobs (13-12, 6-4) to 7 second-half points on 1-of-22 shooting, which precipitated a 25-2 run that turned a 5-point Red Raider lead into a blowout.

“We really locked down on them defensively, made sure to block out and we definitely keyed on a few of their guys we know are their scorers,” said Huntley senior guard Jake Wagner, who scored 14 points. “We played good team defense.”

The victory allowed Huntley to secure at least a share of the Fox Valley Conference’s Valley Division title, its third straight crown.

“We were all ready to come out and beat Jacobs,” said Huntley junior Zach Gorney, who led all scorers with 15 points. “We knew what was on the line. We knew that if we won tonight we clinched a share of the title. I think everyone wanted that.”

Jacobs kept it close for the most of the first half, including a turnaround jump shot by senior Nick Ledinsky that pulled the Golden Eagles within 21-17 with 2:16 left in the second quarter. It would prove to be the last Jacobs basket for a span of 10:55.

Jacobs missed all 15 shots it took in the third quarter, scoring only 2 points on a pair of Jon Berndt free throws early in the period that kept Jacobs within 26-21 for the moment.

“It’s been inconsistent season,” senior Lake Ojo said of the Jacobs offense. “Last game we scored 77 points, then we come back to score 26. I’m expecting, like, an 80-point game the next time we play, I guess. It’s been a roller coaster season.”

Huntley junior Amanze Egekeze scored 6 of his 9 points and blocked 2 of his 4 shots in the third quarter, and Bryce Only helped Huntley close the quarter on a 14-0 run by sinking a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer. Only’s shot gave Huntley a 40-21 lead.

Jacobs finally broke its field-goal drought when Patrick Nerja sank a jump shot from the lane with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter.

“I thought Jacobs missed some shots so that helped us, but I thought we had a hand up every time,” Huntley coach Marty Manning said. “And when they missed them, Amanze was there to clean up the boards. Overall, it was a very good defensive game.”

Ojo led Jacobs with 7 points while Will Schwerdtmann was held to 5 points and Ledninsky 4 points and 4 rebounds.

“We know that they run flex and 5-out so we knew we had to get out and pressure a little bit,” Egekeze said. “Making passes tough was the biggest thing. With the kind of offense they run it’s easy to get open looks and get the easy basket sometimes.”

“I thought they just played super,” Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said of Huntley. “Very physical, very physical. We weren’t able to match them physically.”