ALGONQUIN – Jacobs found Carmel to be frustratingly calm amid what could have been times of concern.
The Golden Eagles chased Carmel the entire game, and every time they closed the gap, the Corsairs answered with baskets of their own.
“They never got frantic,” Jacobs guard Chrishawn Orange said. “We’d make a run and they would be cool and collected and come down and score. It was tough to get them out of their comfort zone.”
Carmel hit 7 of 8 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter to close out a 63-53 victory Friday night in Jacobs’ Hinkle Holiday Classic at the Eagles’ Nest. The win puts the Corsairs (10-2) into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game against Zion-Benton (11-1).
The Zee-Bees defeated Larkin, 78-72, in Friday’s first semifinal game. Larkin (12-2) will meet Jacobs (5-4) for third place at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We want to be beyond ‘hung in there,’ ” Jacobs coach Jim Roberts said. “The difference between us and them is they’re a senior-dominated team that has been through the wars and played in a sectional final. They don’t panic. They’re just a better team than us right now, and that’s OK.”
John George, a 6-foot-10 senior, led the Corsairs with 23 points. Three other Carmel starters – Billy Kirby, Christopher Duff Jr. and Michael Barr – had 10 points each.
“We stayed poised every time they made a run,” George said. “We slowed down our offense and ran it like we do. We have a lot of returning guys and we know what we’re doing.”
Jacobs’ last real threat came in the third quarter when Kenton Mack hit a 3-pointer, Orange drove for a layup and Mack banked in a short jumper to cut the lead to 37-35. The Eagles got two shots on their next possession to tie, but missed both.
Barr dunked on Carmel’s next possession to start an 11-2 run. Jacobs got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“They executed and didn’t get flustered,” said guard Ben Murray, who led Jacobs with 16 points. “They kept pounding it inside and hurt us down low. We can hang there, but we just have to sustain things longer and tighten our defense a little.”
Carmel coach Tim Bowen appreciated how his team handled situations when Jacobs threatened.
“They cut that lead to two and we came back with a 6-0 run,” Bowen said. “As a coach, you can’t ask for much more than that. The boys really impressed me. John [George] has some great skills and he’s getting tougher. He has a lot of desire.”
Milik Yarbrough, an NCAA Division I recruit, led the Zee-Bees with 32 points in their semifinal win. Admiral Schofield added 17. Larkin’s Kendale McCullum scored his tournament-best 31 to lead Larkin.
Roberts looks forward to playing another difficult opponent for third place.
“It’s great to be able to play teams like that here,” he said.