Burlington Central roars back to beat Rockford Christian
Burlington Central trailed Rockford Christian for most of the game and then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the Rockets led by double digits. A 16-2 fourth-quarter run will do that.
The Royal Lions hit a couple of prayers in the waning moments but never seriously threatened as the Rockets hung on for an 82-77 Big Northern East boys basketball win in Burlington.
Zach Schutta led 4 Burlington players in double figures with 19 points as the Rockets improved to 21-2 overall and stayed perfect in the BN-East at 10-0.
"We were able to get a couple of steals that led to some transition points, and hit a couple of tough looks that we were able to get down," said Central coach Brett Porto.
Ryan Fitzgerald added 18 points, Joe Ratzek had 17 points and 7 rebounds, and Ethan Mayfield 14 points and 7 boards for the Rockets. Mike Kalusa added 8 points
"They really buy into that whoever's open and into the right shot philosophy and it really pays off in games like this where maybe they're taking away a scorer or two, they can't really take everybody away," Porto said.
Central trailed by as many as 7 points in the first half. In perhaps a case of foreshadowing, the Rockets closed the half on a 10-2 run to lead 34-31 at the break.
The pace really picked up in the second half as the lead changed hands 6 times. Rockford Christian led 60-57 on a 3-pointer by Josh Dowling, but then the Rockets came roaring back.
A bucket by Fitzgerald and a 3-pointer by Schutta -- one of his 4 on the night -- started the run that ended with the Rockets ahead 73-62. Schutta had two 3-pointers during the spurt.
The Lions made things interesting by hitting a couple of contested shots from the parking lot, but they could never get closer than the final margin.
The Rockets' defense, with hands in faces and bodies in the passing lane, was the unsung hero. Many of the 16 forced turnovers led to easy points on the other end and although the Royal Lions held a 35-29 rebounding edge, they couldn't take advantage.
Nick Kuchenreuther had 21 points and 17 rebounds and Matt Glogowski added 15 points for Rockford Christian.