When expectations every night are high, and you're well aware of your talent level, complacency may be the one thing you have to guard against most.
Just ask the Burlington Central girls basketball team.
The Rockets bolted out to a 29-14 lead on Hampshire at halftime Saturday night, extended it to 44-24 by the end of the third quarter, and then had what may have been their least productive fourth quarter of the season. But they came away with a 47-36 nonconference win on Pack the Place Night at Hampshire and to their coach, Mark Smith, the bottom line is the win.
"We didn't play like we normally play in the fourth quarter," Smith said of his team, which is now 6-0 on the season. "Give credit to Hampshire, but we have to play better in the fourth quarter."
Winning its last game by 44 points over Rock Falls didn't make things any easier for the Rockets once the lead got to 20 against the Whip-Purs (5-3).
"It's probably human nature to say you're going to win all your games like that," Smith said. "We just gotta make sure we stay focused for 32 minutes.
"Overall we're pleased with things tonight. It's a good win against our rival. But we can't go to the Dundee-Crown tournament, the McDonald's Shootout or into a regional and play like that in the fourth quarter."
Central spotted Hampshire a 7-3 lead early on, then the Rockets went on a 21-0 run that put the Whips in a hole they couldn't dig out of. Hampshire went without a field goal from the 5:28 mark of the first quarter until senior Sara Finn canned a 3-pointer with 2:46 to go in the first half. But by that time the Whip-Purs had fallen behind 24-7. BC forced Hampshire into 12 first-half turnovers and scored off eight of them.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do -- bring the pressure," said Hampshire coach Mike Featherly. "That's a good Burlington Central team we faced. We handled it in the first quarter but then they went on that (21-0) run."
Sophomore Samantha Pryor led the Rockets with 15 points. Junior Alison Colby added 11, including 3 3-pointers. She also had 3 assists and 2 blocks.
"Give all the credit to Hampshire but we need to focus better," Colby said. "We can't get lazy when we get big leads like that. We have to concentrate on playing to the best of our ability for all 32 minutes."
Sophomore Kayla Ross added 8 points and 7 steals for the Rockets, who made 16 of 45 from the field, half of them 3-pointers on 20 attempts. BC only turned the ball over 13 times, five times in the fourth quarter.
Finn led Hampshire with 11 points while junior Tricia Dumoulin added 11. Sophomore Emma Benoit had 13 rebounds as the Whips win the boards battle 25-21. They shot a respectable 15 of 36 from the field but did finish with 23 turnovers.
"They keep going and they keep competing," said Featherly of his team. "That's been their trademark all year. The wins will come."