Dave Jackowski spent much of this season toiling in anonymity as the "other" senior forward on the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team, the guy doing the unglamorous work opposite his more noted frontcourt mate, Zach Coleman.
Or at least that was the case before the Northstars met archrival Liverpool in Friday night's Section III Class AA quarterfinal.
Jackowski picked quite a time to have the best game of his varsity career, pouring in 25 points as the no. 2 seed Northstars broke out of a halftime tie and built a 17-point margin in the second half before hanging on to eliminate the no. 7 seed Warriors 65-58 for its 13th victory in a row.
"Everything just worked out," said Jackowski. "They played Zach tight, and it left me wide open."
Indeed, Liverpool was determined not to let Coleman repeat the 27-point effort he put together when CNS won at Liverpool 68-54 on Feb. 18, just a week prior to their playoff rematch on the Northstars' home floor.
Throughout the first half, one or two Warrior defenders camped themselves next to Coleman, rarely allowing him a chance even to touch the ball. In one sense, it worked, as Coleman managed just two points in the half and picked up two fouls.
Perhaps it worked too well, though, for Jackowski kept finding himself alone near the basket - and kept converting. He had 10 points in the first quarter, leading CNS to a 17-11 lead as he added four more points in the second period.
To counter, Liverpool forward Ian Hamm managed 11 first-half points, and a 10-1 run late in the second quarter, with Connor Rogers getting seven of those points, helped the Warriors inch ahead for the only time, 25-24, before going to the break even at 26-26.
Just like the week before, though, the Northstars would start to take over in the third quarter, increasing the tempo more to its liking. Part of it was Jackowski continuing to convert at a rate he had never experienced before - but it was also guys like Vaughndell Brantley and Elliott Boyce Jr. sinking key shots as CNS took a 49-37 lead to the final period.