Class 3A Belvidere sectional
Monday's semifinals: Burlington Central (24-4) vs. Sycamore (21-7), 6 p.m.; Rockford Lutheran (18-10) vs. Woodstock (11-18), 8 p.m.
Outlook: The preparation time may be short but the opponent is well known.
Forced by bad weather to play its regional championship game on Saturday, a 43-35 win over St. Edward, the Burlington Central girls basketball team will only get today's practice to prepare for Monday's sectional semifinal against Sycamore, a team the Rockets beat 41-37 back in November at the BC Thanksgiving tournament. The Spartans, who beat Kaneland 40-20 Friday night to win the Plano regional, boast several players who compete with some of the Rockets on the AAU circuit.
"They did a great job defensively against Kaneland and they are very well-coached," said BC coach Mark Smith of Sycamore. "It should be a good game."
The Rockets continue to be led by junior Alison Colby and the "super soph" quartet of Sam Pryor, Shelby Holt, Kayla Ross and Sam Cruz, the latter of whom scored the two baskets to turn the game around against St. Edward Saturday.
Smith also believes his team's experience of winning a sectional title last year should make a difference.
"These kids have played in close games in the playoffs," he said. "Four of the five (starters) played a lot of minutes in big games last year and they've turned it up a notch this year. Hopefully that will continue."
Playing in the Dundee-Crown Christmas tournament and the McDonald's Shootout also helped BC this season, despite the lack of competition the Rockets faced in running roughshod over the Big Northern East.
"What really boosted our confidence was when we went to Dundee-Crown and played all those good teams, said Cruz. "That helped us a lot."
To beat the Rockets inside, teams have to contend with Colby, who has continued to improve defensively and had her best defensive game of the season Saturday against St. Edward. She also believes the experience of last season will help the Rockets this coming week.
"We've been through it once and we're ready to do it again and go farther this time," she said after Saturday's win. "We're excited to be in the sectional again and we know what it feels like to win it. We want to feel that again."
Sycamore is led by the scoring of Bailey Gilbert and Morgan Picolotti but what makes the Spartans' offense go is sophomore point guard Lauren Goff, who reportedly could miss Monday's game with a concussion. She did not play Friday against Kaneland.
Sycamore is in a sectional for the first time since 2003.
The Lutheran-Woodstock game would appear to be a mismatch on paper. Lutheran, led by sophomore Bailee McGirk, plays three sophomores, two freshmen and a junior among its top six. The Crusaders beat Freeport 54-45 Friday to win the Freeport regional behind 21 points from McGirk.
Woodstock, which beat Richmond 43-36 on Saturday to win the Richmond regional, finished in last place with a 2-10 record in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division. The Blue Streaks upset top-seeded Marian Central 55-51 in the semis at Richmond.
Advancement: The winner of the Belvidere sectional advances to the Hoffman Estates supersectional on March 3 to play the winner of the Ridgewood sectional.