Burlington Central rolls to 9th straight win
It almost seemed like there was a broken record playing over the Burlington Central public address system on Saturday afternoon.
That's because in the first half the names of Zach Schutta and Patrick Mayfield were being called out so often. The Rockets' dynamic duo combined for 13 baskets and 35 points in the first half alone as Central cruised to its ninth straight win, 73-44 over Woodstock in Kishwaukee River Conference action.
Schutta finished with a game-high 22 points, including 20 in the first half. Mayfield added 21 points with 15 of those coming in the first half.
"Those two really work well together," Central coach Brett Porto said. "Zach did a great job of finding a path to the basket and Patrick found his outside shot early on. When those two are cutting and moving and working off of one another like they were today they are pretty tough to stop."
It was Central's first time hosting a game since the week before the holiday break and Schutta was thriving on the home cooking in the first quarter. He started a 15-2 run with a pair of 3-pointers and a putback basket. Mayfield later ended the run with a 3-pointer to put the Rockets up 19-6.
Schutta connected on 7 of 9 shots from the field in the first half and was 4 of 5 from the free throw line. Mayfield was 3 of 3 from the 3-point arc as the Rockets (12-2, 3-0) opened a 45-16 halftime lead.
"It was a good feeling to be back in front of our home fans," Schutta said. "The energy has been great in practice and in the locker room and it transferred right over into the game. We all have a passion for the game and want to give our all every time out on the floor."
Michael Kalusa spearheaded a strong defensive effort by the Rockets with 4 steals. He also added 6 points. The Rockets as a team forced 21 turnovers and held the Blue Streaks to just 17 of 53 (31 percent) shooting from the field.
"We like to speed up the tempo like we were able to do today," Porto said. "That allowed us to cause some turnovers and get the ball up the floor in transition."
The Rockets will try to make it 10 wins in a row when they host longtime rival Hampshire on Thursday in the opening round of Central's MLK Tournament.
"Ever since our last loss to Nazareth we have put a focus on playing with max effort," Porto said. "The 9 wins in a row have been the result of staying engaged and playing hard. We still have some flaws, but effort makes up for a lot of those."
Woodstock fell to 5-8, 1-2. Michael Gardner had 10 points to lead the Blue Streaks in scoring.
"We knew what to expect from Schutta and Mayfield," Woodstock coach Al Baker said. "And we still couldn't slow them down. They are outstanding players. We just had too many lapses. We need to start making every second in practice count."