Burlington Central's hopes for another big season depend in part on blistering the nets, and it took mere seconds for the Rockets to do just that in their opener Tuesday night at Sycamore's Strombom tournament.
Michael Kalusa buried a 3-pointer just five seconds into Burlington Central's game against Dundee-Crown. He knocked down another moments later, then Zach Schutta drilled a trey for a 9-0 lead.
The Rockets started the game on a 12-0 run, ran off 8 straight later in the quarter, and capped the first quarter with another 3. That one came from Caden Scott for a 25-11 lead on the way to a 78-53 victory.
Kalusa made six 3-pointers in the game as Burlington Central (1-0) sank 13 as a team.
"He has that ability," Rockets coach Brett Porto said. "He can get hot in a hurry. It gave all of us confidence right off the bat."
While the Rockets were on fire from outside, Dundee-Crown (0-1) struggled taking care of the ball. Point guard Dejsani Beamon led Burlington Central's pressure defense with 4 steals and Schutta had 3.
The Chargers turned the ball over 7 times in the first quarter and 20 in the first three.
"We definitely turned the ball over too many times," Chargers coach Lance Huber said. "They did a great job with their pressure on us."
Jack Orndahl and Jordan Hairston helped keep the Chargers within 43-28 at halftime with 9 first-half points each.
But the Rockets started the second half hot again. After Schutta posted up for a basket, Scott knocked down a 3, then Beamon fed Schutta for a thunderous dunk in transition to push the lead to 48-28.
Burlington Central led 62-38 after three quarters. Kalusa finished his big night with two more 3s in the fourth quarter; Logan Anderson nailed the final one.
"Our team identity is to move the ball fast," Kalusa said. "Coach Porto always says to push the ball, score a lot of points off transition.
"Great way to start the season. Last year was an off-year shooting for me so me and Pat (Mayfield) and some other teammates got up shots whenever. That totally helped me."
Schutta, who has a chance to finish as Burlington Central's all-time leading scorer, got his senior season started with 23 points. Kalusa added 22 and Scott scored 10.
"That's kind of his standard," Porto said of Schutta. "I like the way he defends multiple positions. He shot some good shots tonight and was able to play in the flow of the offense."
The Rockets continue pool play against Genoa-Kingston and Rochelle hoping for a shot at their third straight Strombom title Saturday.
"Overall a lot of good out there and a lot of room for improvement as well," Porto said.
Orndahl led the Chargers with 15 points including four 3-pointers. Brad Stec added 10.
"They (Burlington) shot lights out," Huber said. "They played really, really well. I was hoping we'd give them a better game. They really turned it on tonight.
"We had moments where we did some things well. We just need more of those moments. It's a long season and we'll get back at it tomorrow."