Boys basketball: Jacobs grabs win over McHenry in FVC opener

Jacobs' Ben Jurzak shoots the ball over McHenry's Marko Visnjevac during a Fox Valley Conference boys basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, at Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

ALGONQUIN – Jacobs felt it was more a victim of a tough schedule at Palatine’s Ed Molitor Classic last week than an 0-4 team.

The Golden Eagles certainly did not look like a winless team Wednesday night. They defended McHenry well, handled the Warriors’ 1-2-2 zone pressure and rode guard Ben Jurzak’s hot hand to a 65-56 victory in their Fox Valley Conference boys basketball opener at the Eagles’ Nest.

“We played some real good teams (at Palatine) and we have to be better for it,” Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. “Last week was a problem if we weren’t better for it. We came in and had two good days of practice and it showed tonight.”

The Eagles (1-4, 1-0 FVC) took care of the ball, while turning over the Warriors (3-1, 0-1) 12 times in the first half to build a 38-30 halftime lead.

Forward Treval Howard scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half and finished with 10 rebounds for Jacobs.

“We had good preparation, two days of practice,” Howard said. “Our coaches did a good job of preparing us for their defense, with what to do in games so we don’t break down or be scared.

“We had to stay under control, play like we know how to play and not let them get in our heads. That’s what we went out there and did.”

Jurzak scored a game-high 22 points with five 3-pointers. He hit his first 3 from the right corner in the final seconds of the first half and was just warming up. The 6-foot junior tossed in three in the third quarter as Jacobs built a 13-point lead.

“I hit the one right before the half, my teammates found me and they kept finding me on the weak side when we got the ball in the middle,” Jurzak said. “Our capability in the second half to not turn the ball over really helped us.”

On defense, Jacobs’ Emaan Thomas guarded McHenry’s leading score Marko Visnjevac most of the game, while Mark Takasaki checked McHenry’s 6-7 Adam Anwar. Both of them finished with 11 points, while Caleb Jett led the Warriors with 14.

Thomas added 15 points for the Eagles, with five in the fourth quarter. Max Fessler scored 10 for the Eagles.

McHenry managed to cut the score to 61-55 and had a shot at 2:00 to dig further into the lead, but missed. Jacobs made its last four points at the free throw line.

McHenry coach Corky Card, whose team won the Woodstock Hoops for Healing Tournament last week, thought the Warriors can learn from a tough game in its FVC opener.

“Jimmy had a good plan, they executed and they hit shots,” Card said. “We’ve turned people over early and they took care of the ball. Kudos to them, they earned it. They just outphysicaled us. They had a good plan with what they wanted to do with Marko and Adam and physicaled us. It’s a good learning spot for us.

“They denied the ball well and made it difficult. This is exactly what the doctor ordered. To get better we needed to play a nice, physical team to start the conference.”

Jacobs 65, McHenry 56

McHENRY (56)

Visnjevac 5 0-0 11, Jett 6 1-2 14, Stone 3 2-2 8, Anwar 5 0-0 11, Sites 3 0-0 6, Maness 1 2-2 4, D. Hurckes 0 0-0 0, Brownicki 1 0-0 2, Stojich 0 0-0 0, Honea 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 5-6 56.


Jurzak 8 1-2 22, Thomas 6 2-2 15, Howard 6 3-6 15, Fessler 3 4-4 10, Takasaki 0 2-2 2, Roper 0 1-2 1, Bouchard 0 0-0 0, O’Connor 0 0-0 0, Jirak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 13-17 65.

McHenry 18 12 12 14 – 56

Jacobs 21 17 15 12 – 65

3-point goals: McHenry 3 (Visnjevac, Jett, Anwar), Jacobs 6 (Jurzak 5, Thomas). Total fouls: McHenry 19, Jacobs 10.