Burlington Central's Patrick Mayfield would certainly like to drive to the hoop every chance he gets.
But in the Rockets' 60-53 nonconference boys basketball win at Crystal Lake South Wednesday that was physical both ways, Mayfield did his damage on the perimeter and that's something he's OK with if he has the open shot.
"If it's wide open I'm going to take it every time," said Mayfield, who scored a game-high 27 points on 8 of 14 shooting, which included a 3-for-5 clip from 3-point range and an 8-for-10 showing at the free-throw line.
"The outside touch is feeling real good right now. Last year it wasn't as good but I've been working on it a lot and been going to the gym with friends and we've been working hard."
The hard work paid off at The Swamp, as each of Mayfield's 3s came at critical times for Central (4-2), which was looking to rebound from a lackluster effort after a 51-50 loss to Nazareth on Sunday.
Mayfield sank a 3 from the right wing to help Central gain some steam and a 4-point lead late in the first quarter. When South (2-5) cut Burlington's double-digit lead to 7 in the third on a 3 of its own from Blake Kuffel, Mayfield canned back-to-back treys, his last forcing a South timeout with 5:01 left and a 43-31 BC advantage.
"When we had the correct cuts against that zone, we got some nice looks under the rim and getting some open threes," BC coach Brett Porto said. "(Mayfield's) put in a lot of time this year and he's very confident and we're very confident in him."
Burlington certainly worked for its points. The Rockets missed 27 attempts and shot 42.5 percent from the field. They cashed in on 16 free throws and Zach Schutta scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half as he and Mayfield accounted for 76 percent of the Rockets' points.
But the Rockets wanted to be a force on the boards, let alone confident and composed. They owned the rebound battle 32-23, which included 17 offensive rebounds. BC also helped force South into 19 turnovers as Schutta, Justin Kalusa and Dejsani Beamon each had 3 steals.
"It was physical and they out-competed us on some of those 50/50 balls and loose balls and we were late to the party," South coach Matt LePage said. "We had 19 turnovers and we can't have that many against them."
It certainly didn't help that South had 3 layups go for naught and 2 intentional fouls. But the Gators, who shot 46. 9 percent and drained more field goals than BC (23 to 20), did play well in spurts and went punch-for-punch in the first quarter. And like in their comeback win Saturday against McHenry, they didn't go away easily thanks to Kyle Leva.
The senior came off the bench and scored 18 points, mainly on shots in the lane. Leva made it 52-45 BC with 5 minutes left in the fourth on a jumper and scored on another bucket in the paint with 2:50 left that prompted a BC timeout leading by 7. But the team besides Leva shot 14 for 36 as Kuffell and Matt Reall each scored 9 points and were hurried throughout thanks to the BC's defensive pressure.
"We just have to make sure everyone is on the same page," Leva said. "We just have to slow down and make our reads, play calm and collected. I think we were a little rushed at some parts and that attributed to some of our turnovers."