Burlington Central's girls basketball team got the message.
Loud and clear.
After a horrid shooting night against Mother McAuley on Thursday, Rockets' coach Mark Smith made it clear he expected his team to take a more aggressive approach to the painted area of the basketball floor -- and he didn't mean the 3-point arc.
Yes, everyone knows the Rockets love to launch 3s, and when they're going in BC can put up a lot of points. But Smith wanted his team to show some aggression taking the ball to the basket on Friday when the Rockets took on host Dundee-Crown in the 31st annual Charger Classic.
And, boy, did the Rockets pay attention to their coach.
Central scored a whopping 52 points either in the paint or on free throws as the result of fouls called in the paint and beat D-C 56-44. The win advances the Rockets to a 12:30 p.m. game Saturday against St. Charles North, the school where Smith teaches, with the winner getting a shot at the consolation championship on Monday.
"They got the message," Smith smiled after Friday's win. "Any coach I follow or have followed has always said you gotta go inside. We were not happy with (Thursday's) result. We followed the game plan today and did a nice job. We were much more efficient today."
After going 6-for-24 from 3-point range on Thursday, the Rockets (10-1) didn't make a single 3 on Friday, misfiring on all 10 attempts. But those attempts were so spread out during the game, the 0-for-10 was barely noticeable. What was much more noticeable was 22-for-39 shooting from 2-point range.
"We listened," said BC junior Alison Colby, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. "We air-balled more than we made (Thursday). The team learned a lesson. If you're off shooting, you gotta drive. It was a good day. We still have a lot to work on but a win is a win."
The Rockets broke out to a 14-8 lead after one quarter and extended it to 29-19 by halftime and then 31-19 early in the third when sophomore Kayla Ross scored on one of the Rockets' 16 offensive rebounds.
But D-C (5-12) put together a 9-0 run to close the gap to 31-28 when Melissa Barker scored on a putback with 4:34 left in the third. Sophomore Sam Pryor (14 points, 7 rebounds) scored to make it 33-28 at the 3:22 mark and 2 free throws from Lauren Lococo (14 points) brought the Chargers back to within 3, 33-30. But Ross drove the lane to start an 11-2 BC run to end the quarter and Dundee-Crown never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
"They got it down to three and then we made some plays again," said Smith. "But (the Chargers) never quit. They played hard the whole time."
Which was of little consolation to D-C coach Sarah Miller.
"We weren't getting any stops," she said. "Their shots weren't difficult. Credit to Burlington Central. They played hard and they finished. But that was a winnable game if we'd have done the little things. We got outrebounded on the offensive boards big-time and when you give a team that many chances in the lane you're going to lose the ballgame."
Shelby Holt and Aly DeTamble added 8 points each for the Rockets, who now get a chance to play their neighbors and rivals from St. Charles North, a team BC had to take off its schedule this season in order to accept an invitation to play in next month's McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook.