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Burlington Central's Moter Deng looked for a dunk whenever he had the opportunity Friday night.
Instead, he watched 6-foot 9 Duncan Ozburn, who woke up not thinking about slamming his first one of season home, put the hammer down.
"I wanted it so bad, and then I missed it," said Deng, who had a chance in the third quarter to stick a two-handed slam but only came up with iron on a whistled call.
But when Ozburn completed the right-handed stuff during Burlington's 59-38 Big Northern East boys basketball win over Harvard on Rocket Hill for Central's third-straight victory, it was part of a 14-4 run for the Rockets (3-7, 3-0) during the fourth quarter where they distanced themselves from the one pass, one dribble sequences that had been a habit during the previous quarters.
The run — a 3:13 span during the fourth quarter that blew the game open — included a Deng putback off a Ryan Ritchie miss, a Bryce Warner putback, a basket by Reed Hunnicutt off a Deng alley-oop pass and the Ozburn dunk, which evolved off his own steal at Harvard's free throw line. Once Ozburn (6 points, 6 rebounds) flushed, the crowd exploded and it seemed the Rockets had finally found the plague's antithesis.
"I think we relied a little bit too much three quarters on that perimeter shooting," said Rockets' coach Brett, whose team finished 21 of 67 from the field. "I thought one of our better possessions was when we skipped a level, skipped sides, reversed the ball and got an inside layup — the dunk. I thought that ws a key possession for us.
"I thought we slept-walked for three quarters on defense because after the initial trap, the rotations on the back side were slow and I think we played hard for six minutes tonight and kind of died out and got after them right around that time."
Central, led by Deng's 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, put up 35 shots in the first half alone, sinking only 10. Central did can 6 of 17 from 3-point range. But what made up for 17 turnovers and a lack of shooting was the turnovers forced, rebounding and BC's full court trap the Hornets (1-4, 0-2) were swarmed with throughout.
Central had 11 steals on 26 Harvard turnovers and won the edge on the glass 45-23, including 11 from Bryce Warner (6 offensive) and 6 from Deng (5 offensive). The Rockets had as many offensive rebounds as Harvard did total and held the Hornets to 29 percent shooting.
"I was in the back side of the zone and all I was trying to do was get rebounds," said Warner. "We watched them on film and they're a little erratic under pressure. We were just trying to pressure corners and got steals out of it."
Warner managed 8 points as a balanced scoring attack saw 6 Rockets with at least 6 points or more, including Ritchie and Hunnicutt. The offense had another moment after Dan McCurdy (6 points) came off the bench in the third and sank his second 3-pointer of the night from the right wing to make it 36-29 Central with 2:25 left. The lead kept climbing thereafter and looked to key the turnaround for Central, which now has some daylight after starting the season 0-7. The Rockets have aspirations of making it 4 in a row now.
"I felt like during the second half of (the) Elgin (game) that once I saw how we played in the second half that was realistic goal, " said Porto. "And now we just really want to make our way to the winner's side of the bracket over at Plano, to try to get that extra game and play some nice competition over there, so we'll see what we can do against Newark (today)."
Harvard's Tate Miller led the Hornets with 9 points. Justin Nolen chipped in 8.