ELGIN – Jacobs senior Kerri Healy made the difficult shots look rather routine in the second quarter, driving through traffic and scooping in layup after layup against Larkin in a Class 4A South Elgin Regional first-round game.
The 5-foot-6 guard scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the second quarter as Jacobs carried a five-point lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, as Golden Eagles coach Joe Benoit described, his team simply “ran out of gas.”
Larkin’s Aaliyah Dixon knocked down one of her game-high four 3-pointers to tie the score with 2:25 remaining, and the Royals pulled away from the Eagles, 44-39, to advance to the regional semifinals.
It was the second year in a row that Larkin ended the Eagles’ season. The 10th-seeded Royals (5-24) will play No. 2
seed Dundee-Crown in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Third-seeded Cary-Grove faces No. 6 seed South Elgin in the second semifinal.
“We just kind of let them back in, took some plays off on defense, and that’s where they got us,” Healy said. “I don’t think we were timid. I just think we had trouble finding our rhythm again and we were trying to rush it a little bit.”
Larkin grabbed its first lead since the first quarter on a 3 from Haley Bohne with 1:45 remaining. The Royals outscored Jacobs, 14-4, over the final 2:57, as Jacobs shot 4 of 14 from the field in the final eight minutes.
Two of Jacobs’ buckets, a pair of layups by Kyra Cabusao, came with less than 30 seconds left.
“At the end of the third quarter, I thought we had some tired legs out there,” Benoit said. “Larkin hit some incredibly big shots. In the fourth, I felt we settled too much for perimeter stuff and had some costly turnovers. At the end of the day, it’s a tough loss. But I’m really proud of this group, especially Kerri Healy. I thought she played as well as she could have played. She should have no regrets. She left it on the floor.”
Healy led the seventh-seeded Eagles (9-18) with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. She was Jacobs’ only senior this season and averaged 10.6 points a game, hitting 23 3s.
“I was just trying to create opportunities for myself and my teammates, whether offense or defense,” Healy said. “I had a lot of fun, even though everyone was a lot younger. I had a different role than I’ve ever had before. ... I hope I helped the younger girls in some way.”
Aleicia Valldejuli had what Benoit called her best varsity game, tossing in nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. Cabusao, who had not practiced for 10 days because of an ankle injury, finished with eight points.
Courtney Pahl had six points, making 3 of 4 free throws, and a 3 to go with seven rebounds, and Courtney Durben added two points. The Eagles were without their top 3-point shooter, Elizabeth Schwartz (10 points a game), who tore her ACL on Jan. 31 against Prairie Ridge.
Dixon led the Royals with 15 points. Brianna Young had 14 points and eight rebounds. Bohne finished with eight points, including the go-ahead 3, all in the second half.
Valldejuli, a 5-foot-8 junior forward, said the team’s future is bright, despite losing its top scorer.
“Kerri was a leader for me, like a role model,” an emotional Valldejuli said. “This is by far one of my favorite teams I’ve ever played with. The girls and I made so many memories together, and I cherished the little things we did.”
“Kerri is kind of the peacemaker. If we’re upset with each other, she’ll calm us down. She’s a really good player. She’s really humble with everything, not taking credit for anything, always giving credit. And I really appreciate that about her. There are not a lot of players like that.”
Benoit also believes his team’s future is bright. He was looking forward to possibly playing Dundee-Crown again in a semifinal (the teams split two regular-season meetings), but not discouraged about the team’s prospects in the coming years.
The Eagles will return three juniors, five sophomores and a freshman.
“We had a lot of growing pains this year, but the future is tremendously bright,” Benoit said. “There’s no denying they played as hard as they can. It’s a privilege for me to stand on the sidelines and work with kids like this. I’m sorry we didn’t get it done tonight for them, but this year was all about learning. The kids all year responded to challenges.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Jacobs, sr., G
The Golden Eagles’ only senior finished her varsity basketball career with a team-high 14 points on 7-of-15 shooting. She also grabbed eight rebounds and passed out two assists.
14-4: Larkin outscored Jacobs, 14-4, over the final 2:57 of the game.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
The Golden Eagles were without Elizabeth Schwartz (10 points a game) after the sophomore guard tore her ACL on Jan. 31 against Prairie Ridge. Schwartz led Jacobs with 25 3-pointers.
Class 4A South Elgin Regional
Larkin 44, Jacobs 39
Larkin 4 13 9 18 – 44
Jacobs 8 14 7 10 – 39
LARKIN (44): Dixon 5 1-2 15, Young 3 7-9 14, Bohne 3 1-5 8, Allen 2 2-2 7. Totals: 13 11-20 44.
JACOBS (39): Healy 7 0-0 14, Valldejuli 4 1-2 9, Cabusao 3 2-3 8, Durben 1 0-0 2, Pahl 1 3-4 6. Totals: 16 6-9 39.
3-point goals: Larkin 7 (Dixon 4, Bohne, Young, Allen), Jacobs 1 (Pahl). Total fouls: Larkin 9, Jacobs 10.