Burlington Central clinches share of FVC crown
Although Burlington Central clinched a share of the Fox Valley Conference title with its 58-48 win over Crystal Lake South on Friday, it was game that the team is glad is in the rearview mirror.
The Rockets did hold off a fourth quarter South rally that saw the host Gators whittle down a 16-point Central lead to 10 before time expired. However, the Rockets were unable to put South away earlier the contest.
"I feel like the last eight to 10 minutes we played pretty sloppy. We got careless with the basketball at times and that was a little disappointing," said Central coach Brett Porto. "But we did enough to win tonight and now it's time to get ready for next week."
The Rockets (26-3, 16-0) need to win one of their last two FVC games, both at home, to clinch the title outright.
Crystal Lake South (15-13, 9-7) took an early lead, 5-3 at the 5:33 mark of the first quarter on Cooper LePage's first of five 3-point baskets. The junior led all scorers with 21 points.
The Gators' lead lasted a little over two minutes and ended with Trestan Wagner's trey that put the Rockets up 10-8. The senior reserve's bucket sparked a Central rally that put the team ahead 14-9 at end of the first quarter.
"I'm just trying to play with a lot more confidence and provide a spark off the bench," said Wagner. "I understand my role. I come in, play really hard on defense and try to knock down some shots."
The scoring spurt continued into the second quarter with a 16-6 run finishing with two more Wagner 3-pointers. Central held a 32-20 advantage at the intermission.
"I thought that spurt in the second quarter was the difference," Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage said. "They turned us over and got easy baskets. That was a big part of the game. They are really good at doing that. They put you in tough spots and take advantage of the turnovers."
Wagner along with junior Matthew Lemon and freshman Jake Johnson put in a lot of minutes for the Rockets thanks to Porto's playing rotation that give his starters breaks throughout the game.
"We have some guys that can really contribute right now and it's important to get them some valuable time in tough games and tough opponents," said the Central coach. "Tonight, Jake Johnson made a couple of defensive plays, Lemon is always giving us good minutes and Trestan (9 points) got hot early to break it open. I say his first half surge really got us going."
The action slowed down in the third quarter. Neither team was able to score until South's Isaiah Kirkeeng (11 points) got a bucket at the 5:16 mark. Garvis Sarvis, Central's top scorer with 15 points, responded with a layup. Central managed only six more points in the period and started the fourth quarter with a 44-28 lead.
"Early on (in the third quarter) we got a couple of looks inside on some plays we like to run, and we missed them unfortunately," Porto said. "Then I thought we shot some non-characteristic shots for us, whether it be early or not from the right spots on the court and that kind of slowed down the third quarter."
Carson Seyller scored 10 points for Central.