As soon as North Boone's Austin Baden missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer, Burlington Central finally felt comfortable.
After battling deficits as large as 15 points in the third quarter, the Rockets clawed their way back to a 60-60 tie in the closing seconds at North Boone. After Baden missed a 3-pointer as time expired, the Rockets went on to outscore the Vikings 9-2 in overtime to seal a 69-62 Big Northern Conference East boys basketball victory in Popla Grove Thursday night.
"We just never gave up," Central coach Brad Porto said. "The team believed that it was our game. When you come up here it's a tough environment to play in."
Jarod Moxness nailed a 3-pointer off a pass from Ray Hunnicutt with 10 seconds left to tie the game at 60.
Central (9-5, 4-0) did not lead the game from the opening minute of the second period until Tim Sullivan nailed a 3-pointer with 2:59 left in overtime to put Central ahead 63-60. The Rockets' previous lead came when Hunnicutt put the Rockets ahead 13-11 on the opening possession of the second quarter.
Kyle Garman (18 points) brought North Boone (5-6, 2-1) back within 63-62 when he drew Sam Klein's fifth foul with 1:43 left in overtime. The Vikings would not score again missing all 6 shot attempts and Garman missed another pair of free throws.
Hunnicutt, who led all players with 28 points, made all 4 of his free-throw attempts in the overtime period.
"We had the will to win," said Klein, who finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. "(After Baden missed his shot) it was a relief. We had a fresh start."
Central, which won its fourth straight, needed a fresh start after struggling on both ends of the floor for the majority of the game.
The Vikings broke an 11-11 tie at the end of the first quarter by outscoring Central 20-7 in the second period. Central shot 21.8 percent (7 of 32) from the floor in the first half. The Rockets followed the effort up by going 42.8 percent (15 of 35) in the second half.
After Sullivan connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, Central would miss its next 16 long-range shots until Hunnicutt cut North Boone's lead to 47-41 with 6:36 left in the fourth period.
"The first 16 minutes of the game was poor," Porto said. "Our defensive intensity was night and day between the two halves. We kind of slept walked through the first half."
One thing that remained consistent for the Rockets was their rebounding. Central was able to, in part, make up for some of its poor shooting with a 50-28 advantage on the glass. The Rockets grabbed a whopping 24 offensive rebounds. Along with Klein, Hunnicutt (10) and Thomas Fitzgerald (11) all finished with double-digit rebounds.
Tim Huber led the Vikings with 19 points.