JERSEYVILLE – The third time proved quite charming for the Civic Memorial Eagles on Wednesday night. Just ask 6-foot-8 senior center Jakob Lowrance.
He led the charmed charge with 19 points as the Eagles defeated Highland, 48-42 in a semifinal game of the Class 3A Jersey Boys' Basketball Regional. The 18-11 Eagles, who lost to the Bulldogs twice during the regular season, meet 17-14 Jersey at 7 p.m. Friday for the regional title in Havens Gym.
“It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season,” said Lowrance, who also contributed 12 rebounds and three blocks. “We knew we had it in us to beat them (Bulldogs), if we played our game.”
Freshman Jaquan Adams tossed in 17 points and the Eagles flashed a strong second half to close out Mississippi Valley Conference champion Highland at 13-15.
“We had a good game plan coming into the game and we stuck to it,” CM coach Doug Carey said. “Our kids played really well against Highland’s pressure.”
The conference rivals were tied seven times, including 22-22 at half. Then the Eagles used an 11-4 spurt to go ahead by seven points. They led 35-31 at the end of the third quarter and increased it to 46-36 with just more than three minutes to play.
Highland got to within 43-40 with 1:45 remaining, but could creep no closer. CM led 46-42 before Brett Lane sank two free throws with 17.5 seconds left to ensure the victory. Lane finished with seven points.
Yet it was Adams who emerged as the difference-maker. He made 7 of 12 shots in logging a season-best point output.
“He has really grown up and matured for us since the start of the season, when he was starting on the freshmen team,” Carey said. “He played great and his shots fell tonight.”
Lowrance added, “It helps me a little when Jaquan gets aggressive like that. I knew he had an opportunity to be a good player and help us, and he has stepped up all season.”
Bulldogs’ coach Matt Elledge pointed to Adams’ work as instrumental in the Eagles’ win. “We knew what he could do and he stepped up for them,” he said.
Elledge added, “The difference between this game and the first two games was that they (Eagles) were patient on the offensive end and we didn’t get as many turnovers.”
CM made 18 of 34 shots and committed just 12 turnovers, seven in the fourth quarter. Austin Elledge’s 14 points led Highland, which made 18 of 43 shots. Yet the Bulldogs connected on just a pair of 3-pointers.
“We missed some wide open shots we normally make,” Elledge said. “They extended their zone defense and I knew that CM would give us some problems the third time we played them.”
Adams and Lowrance supplied CM with its charm and put the Eagles one win from their first regional championship since 1993. Jersey and CM divided two regular-season games this season, with each team winning at home.
“The MVC Tournament comes down to one game,” Carey quipped of the regional. “I’m expecting an all-out war, so we have to be ready to go.”
Jersey rallied to oust top-seeded Marquette, 39-26, in the first semifinal. The Panthers are seeded fourth and the Eagles third. Highland was the No. 2 seed and Marquette was the defending regional champion.
Both the Bulldogs and top-seeded Explorers are gone, setting up another potential classic CM and Jersey matchup. The winner advances to next week’s Carbondale Sectional.
“It’s important to be playing for a regional title,” Lowrance said. “I’m happy to get there because the last two years we lost in the semifinals.”
CLASS 3A JERSEY REGIONAL
CM 48, HIGHLAND 42
CM 11 11 13 13 – 48
Highland 10 12 9 11 – 42
CM (18-11) – Jakob Lowrance 19, Zack Lehnen 5, Brett Lane 7, Jaquan Adams 17. 2FG-16 3FG-2 FT-10 PF-11
Highland (13-15) – Austin Elledge 14, Cole Landmann 8, Brode Portell 5, Luke Theis 5, Justin Twyford 6, Chris Dickman 2, Will Michael 2. 2FG-16 3FG-2 FT-4 PF-14