ROCKFORD -- By early in the second half, Rockford Christian had used all 13 players on its roster.
None of them could stop Reed Hunnicutt. The Burlington Central senior had 12 points by halftime and the Rockets led 35-8.
In fact, the only one who could stop Hunnicutt was Brett Porto. The Central coach gave Hunnicutt and the other starters the night off shortly after halftime. Even without them, the Rockets were well on their way to taming the Royal Lions, 57-34, in the Big Northern East boys basketball opener for both teams in Rockford Monday night.
Hunnicutt and Ryan Fitzgerald each finished with 14 points and Sean Fitzgerald added 8 points for the Rockets (7-1).
The Rockets' defense was the star of the game, though, contesting every shot and pass and generally making the young Royal Lions miserable. In the first half, the Rockets held the Lions to 19 percent shooting, forced 11 turnovers, and outrebounded the hosts 17-7. Meanwhile, Central committed just 4 turnovers for the game.
Although Christian's 6-foot-7 Brandon Williams was able to keep Duncan Ozburn in check, other Rockets stepped up.
"We just move the ball so well, whoever's open shoots the ball," said Hunnicutt. "We work it around really well. We try to get it into Duncan when we can, but when they're doubling on him, other people are open and we just try to hit open shots."
Central broke the game open early. The Rockets scored 12 straight points to go up 16-2 then, after a Rockford Christian free throw to close the first quarter, scored 14 straight points to open the second, making it 30-3. Central eventually built the lead to 52-15 on a 3-pointer by Andrew Wiss. Reserves played exclusively in the fourth quarter.
"We played really well defensively, and moved the ball pretty well on offense," said Porto. "We were able to take care of business.
"We really emphasize ball pressure and being active in the passing lanes tonight, and the guys really did that, especially early."
The Rockets had their hands up, slapping at everything. They deflected several passes, which led to some easy baskets at the other end.
Central also dominated the boards. Ryan Fitzgerald grabbed 6 rebounds and Ozburn had 5 to lead the way.
Williams finished with 7 points to lead Rockford Christian.