Recognition often times comes by way of success, and the Burlington Central girls basketball program has learned that for the second time in the past couple weeks.
Coming off a 27-5 season and a Class 3A supersectional appearance, the Rockets on Monday accepted an invitation to join the 16-team field at the prestigious Charger Classic Christmas Tournament at Dundee-Crown.
Central will replace nine-time tournament champion Fenwick, which informed Dundee-Crown recently that it will not return in 2013.
"It's a great feather in our cap," said Rockets' coach Mark Smith, whose team also recently accepted an invitation to play in the McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook on Martin Luther King weekend.
"It's great recognition for the girls and the credit goes to the girls. It's a premier girls Christmas tournament and we're delighted and honored to be asked to be in it."
The Rockets lose seniors Camille Delacruz and Erika Haynes to graduation but return the rest of their team, including sophomores Alison Colby and Jackie Collins, and freshmen Shelby Holt, Kayla Ross, Sam Pryor, Becca Gerke and Samantha Cruz, among others, from a team that won the Big Northern East and advanced further in the state tournament than any team in program history. BC won its first regional title since 1990 and its first sectional crown since 1984 this season.
"You get better by playing better teams and this will help improve the quality of our team, and it will help us come playoff time," Smith said.
Burlington Central athletic director Steve Diversey was more than happy to sign and return the contract to Dundee-Crown Monday.
"For our program it's a huge accolade," Diversey said. "It's a tribute to our girls and our program. As an athletic director, anytime I can see our school get on the map athletically, it's great."
Dundee-Crown AD Dick Storm was happy to be able to fill the opening quickly with a school that has a large fan base. Rockets' fans filled 90 percent of one side of the Hoffman Estates gym at last week's supersectional.
"We're sorry to lose Fenwick, which has been here for a long time, but we're happy to have Burlington Central," Storm said.
The Charger Classic, which will be in its 31st year next Christmas, has long been recognized as one of the top girls tournaments in the state. Countless future college standouts have played in the tournament, including WNBA stars Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings.
"We're happy and really honored to be going to Dundee-Crown," said Smith, whose daughter, Kelsey, played in the D-C tournament for St. Charles North. She now plays at DePaul.