Burlington Central's girls basketball team broke the Belvidere North press effectively in the second quarter.
But in the third quarter with the Rockets behind by 3 points and a three-peat of the Central Thanksgiving tournament championships in sight for North, it was a different story.
The press came back in full force creating chaos for the Rockets, who had not been behind in their three previous games nor had seen pressure as such this early.
The result was a 19-11 Belvidere North third quarter, where Burlington only attempted 8 shots, turned the ball over four times and watched the lead balloon to 11 and as many as 15 in the fourth as Belvidere North went a perfect 4-0 in the tourney with convincing 55-44 win on Rocket Hill Wednesday night.
Central (3-1), which settled for second place, was led by freshman Shelby Holt's 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, including 3 3-pointers. Alison Colby finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds and both were named to the all-tournament team along with Belvidere North's Anna Martensen, who had 6 points and 2 steals, and Kristen Larson, who had a game-high 17 points and 4 assists.
"We got ahead there, we've got to go over that situation when we have the advantage to attack the basket and when to pull it out," Rockets coach Mark Smith said. "We got a little excited there in the second half. They made a run, (we) got a little lost out there but it's going to happen and we gotta make plays, if we fix those mistakes we'll be OK."
Belvidere North (4-0) shot a 58 percent clip from the field and outrebounded Central 17-15 while turning it over more with 20 compared to Central's 14.
And some of those turnovers were key in the Rockets' comeback in the second quarter, which allowed them to grab a 1-point lead after a Camille Dela Cruz jumper swished in with 3:57 left. But that lead didn't last for long and the Thunder outscored Central 9-6 the rest of the half. Central missed 4 layups off the press break that could have put the Rockets into good position heading into halftime.
"What we need to work on in practice now is to finish our layups when we have opportunities like that," Colby said. "As it shows it can count later in the game."
Holt would can a 3-pointer 1:15 into the third quarter that cut the Belvidere lead to 2 but a 3-pointer on the next possession by Haley Grana, who chipped in 10 points and 6 rebounds and 3 steals, and trips to the free-throw line put the Rockets behind by 11 with 3:22 left.
From there, it was more press. Even when the Rockets advanced over midcourt, they saw a defense that extended the Rockets' wings deep behind the 3-point line and Central had a tough time getting down to Colby, who managed just one basket each in the third and fourth quarters.
Holt attempted to get the Rockets back into it but her 4 3-pointers that wouldn't go down and good passing on the Thunder's side led to some easy buckets inside.
"All week we had been preparing for their press because we knew we would be playing them in the championship hopefully," Colby said. "After they switched the press it changed the tempo of the game and it was something we weren't prepared it but we handled it OK I guess."
Kayla Ross and Samantha Pryor chipped in 6 points each for Central, which shot 17 of 47 from the field.