Richmond-Burton knocks off Burlington Central
Burlington Central's hopes of capturing the Kishwaukee River Conference boys basketball title hit a bit of a snag against a different Rockets team Thursday night.
Senior point guard Blaine Bayer scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter to help lift Richmond-Burton's Rockets (14-11, 4-2) to a 56-48 victory over host Burlington Central's Rockets (19-3, 5-2).
Bayer fueled R-B's 13-3 late third-quarter run by hitting three consecutive 3-point baskets, the last one extending the margin to 36-31.
The visiting Rockets outscored Burlington 22-10 in the third quarter after trailing 21-16 at halftime.
"Blaine is a phenomenal player," said Burlington Central coach Brett Porto. "He has had games in the 30s throughout (the season) so we were trying to take him away. The last time up there (70-52 Burlington win on Dec. 15), we did a good job taking him away. This time, he was very determined and some guys set a couple nice screens for him."
Trailing 40-31 early in the fourth quarter, Central staged a comeback.
With Bayer sidelined after rolling his right ankle in the final seconds of the third period, back-to-back baskets by senior guard Ta Vontae Harris (12 points, 8 steals, 4 rebounds) cut R-B's lead to 42-39 with 4:38 remaining.
"I'm not sure that they've played without him for four years like that," Porto said of R-B's Bayer. "We were almost able to capitalize on that. We cut it to 42-39 but it just wasn't enough."
R-B put the game away with an 8-1 surge that included 3-pointers from Jake Kaufman (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Mark Marzahl (15 points).
"I thought a couple of our captains -- Ta Vontae (Harris) and Emmanuel Wells -- showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart," said Porto. "Hopefully, our younger guys can build off of that because we're going to have games in March that are going to be tight.
"It's good to have games like this. We like to learn more from wins but I think it was a good learning experience. We're trying to prepare for March."
Junior Zach Schutta added 11 points and 7 rebounds for Central's Rockets, now in a virtual tie with Marengo and Richmond-Burton (2 losses each).
"We had a lot of turnovers (17) and a lot of our shots weren't falling," said sophomore Patrick Mayfield, who came off the bench to score 9 points. "I'm glad this didn't happen in March. We can still come back."
Central connected on just 2 of 16 from beyond the arc and had very few transition baskets against R-B's zone defense.
"The difference being Blaine (Bayer)," said Porto. "He's a top point guard in the area. He can handle it really well. I've got nothing but compliments for that kid and I have for four years now."
"I'm excited," said Bayer, who added 5 steals. "It's always nice winning here because this is a tough place to play."