On a night when its offense was as frigid as the temperature outside, the Burlington Central boys basketball team relied on defense to win.
The Rockets, who made just 13 of 56 shots for 23 percent, wreaked havoc on Woodstock defensively and pulled away late in the fourth quarter for a 37-28 nonconference win on Rocket Hill.
"We battled and found a way to get the W," said Central coach Brett Porto. "It wasn't pretty and there were a lot of people shaking their heads but someone had to win and we won."
The Rockets' defense helped create 32 Woodstock turnovers and had BC (13-4) been able to make a layup the game would have been a rout. Of the 43 shots Central missed, 21 were in the paint. They were also just 2 of 14 from 3-point range.
But BC's tenacious defense not only caused Woodstock (5-10) problems handing the basketball, it also helped create an 11-for-44 shooting night for the Blue Streaks.
"Defense won us the game," said Rocket senior Brett Rau, who had 9 steals. "It's all about the win."
Early on it looked like the Rockets would win easily. They carried a 14-2 lead into the second quarter when the offense suddenly went stagnant. Over the next two quarters Central scored just 9 points and was 4-for-33 shooting.
But while Woodstock did cut into the lead, the Streaks couldn't get much going offensively either. They closed the gap to 18-13 at halftime and cut it to 20-17 on a basket by 6-foot-7 senior Damian Stoneking with 3:06 left in the third. But Rau scored at 1:59 and Jacob Schutta made 1 of 2 free throws with 19 seconds left to give BC a 23-17 lead going into the fourth.
Woodstock started the final period on a 7-0 run and took its first lead since 2-0 when Alex Ferguson hit a 3-pointer with 5:47 left in the game to give the Blue Streaks a 24-23 lead.
Then, for the first time since the first quarter, the Rocket offense showed some signs of life. BC outscored Woodstock 14-4 the rest of the way, hitting 7 of 10 from the free-throw line down the stretch.
A 3-pointer from sophomore Luke McCurdy with 4:20 to go gave the Rockets a 26-24 lead and sparked the final run. A two-handed dunk from 6-9 senior Duncan Ozburn with 56 seconds left sealed the deal and sparked the small but vocal finals week crowd.
"We slowed down tremendously after the first quarter," Rau said. "We were missing bunnies left and right. We got frustrated but we found a way to win."
Schutta led the Rockets with 8 points, while Sean Fitzgerald had 7 and Ozburn added 6 with 5 blocks. Reed Hunnicutt also scored 6 points for the Rockets, who were outrebounded 49-33 but only turned the ball over 10 times.
"Some nights you're going to have shooting nights like this," Porto said. "We did a nice job offensively and defensively in the first quarter and then the defense all night never let (Woodstock) get comfortable."
Stoneking led the Blue Streaks with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.