Burlington Central played a first half to remember Saturday night in the second semifinal of the Plano Christmas Classic, taking an 18-point lead over Morris.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, they came back with a second half they would love to forget, squandering the lead and a chance to play for the tournament championship with a 52-45 loss.
No. 2 seed Burlington Central (9-3) gave up 17 straight points at one stretch in the second half and got outscored 34-12 after seeming in total control up 33-18 at halftime.
"Disappointed because to this point our seniors have done a really nice job closing out games," Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said. "Very untypical and uncharacteristic of the way we play.
"We've got to shake it, move on, nobody feels sorry for us so we have to come back Monday with a good effort."
The Rockets will play Aurora Christian (8-6) in the third-place game at 7 p.m. Monday.
No. 3 seed Morris (8-1), whose only loss is to Coal City, advances to the championship game at 8:30 p.m. Monday against defending champion and top seed Ottawa (10-1).
"They missed some shots," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. "I thought we rebounded well. (Central guard Brett) Rau was able to go wherever he wanted in the first half and I thought Sam Allen did a good perimeter defensive job on him in the second half."
The Rockets led early 9-2 and built their lead to as much as 33-15 on a pair of free throws from Reed Hunnicutt late in the second quarter. Burlington Central got the ball back and was holding for the last shot but turned it over, and Morris guard Jake Walker drained a 3 at the buzzer.
It didn't seem like a big deal at the time because the Rockets were still up 15 points, but Walker's 3 turned out to be the start of a stunning 30-4 run that ended with Morris leading 45-37 with three minutes left in the game.
"Coaches really put us in place (at halftime) but they were really positive and that's what helped," Walker said.
Morris also switched from zone to man in the second half, and the Rockets made just one field goal from Duncan Ozburn in the third quarter and no field goals in the fourth until Hunnicutt finally drove for a basket with 55 seconds left. At that point the Rockets had missed 14 of 15 shots and had turned the ball over 11 times while Morris got hot from outside with three 3-pointers in the third quarter and three more to open the fourth.
"I thought we stopped playing defense and we let offensive frustration go to lack of effort on the defensive end and that's disappointing to see," Porto said.
Hunnicutt led the Rockets with 17 points and Ozburn added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Walker scored 18 and Austin Patterson 17 and combined for six 3-pointers for Morris.
"I didn't like our body language at times there," Porto said. "Hopefully we can learn from this and find a way to get better and play a more complete game Monday."