For playing their second game of the day, Elgin and Burlington Central played with plenty of energy and intensity, even if it wasn't always directed properly.
The Rockets' boys basketball team opened a big first-quarter lead then staved off several Elgin charges to post a 66-55 victory in pool play of the Central MLK Classic Saturday.
With Zach Schutta in particular off to a hot start, the Rockets opened a 23-4 lead before the Maroons regrouped. They got within 10 points several times in the second half, but every time the Rockets answered.
"Both teams had lulls defensively and offensively, but when it came down to it, we made a few plays at the right times," said Central coach Brett Porto. "There were moments when we were just getting a little too helter-skelter offensively, and it seemed like whenever they would come back we would settle down and get a nice offensive action and take advantage of it."
The key was "just running 30 seconds to a minute of clock and executing our offense, trying to get a layup down low for 2 points," Schutta said.
Schutta finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists for the Rockets (14-2). Patrick Mayfield added 13 points, and Michael Kalusa chipped in 9 points and 9 boards.
The Rockets' 4-guard lineup outrebounded the Maroons, 37-23.
With Central leading 8-0, Elgin coach Mike Sitter subbed out all 5 starters, but the second unit couldn't do much to stem the tide. Central got its first 5 baskets from 5 different players. The Rockets built the lead to 14-0 before Michael Weatherburn's layup got Elgin on the board.
Elgin slowly fought its way back. The Maroons closed the third quarter on a 14-6 run to make it 48-39. They got as close as 8 in the fourth, but could get no closer.
Trevon Morris gave the Maroons a big lift off the bench, scoring 16 points and igniting some runs with quick hands on defense.
Dan Toolsie added 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Roy Panthier scored 12 points for Elgin (6-11).
"I told my kids that if they play this hard the rest of the year, then I have no complaints," Sitter said. "We can get better execution-wise, we can improve shooting-wise, things like that, but you can't fault our effort."
Earlier in the day, the Maroons beat Hampshire. Sitter announced earlier this week that he will step down after the season to become Hampshire's athletic director, but he insisted he felt no divided loyalties Saturday.
"That job hasn't started yet, it won't start until the season's over, so I'm going to give these kids all I have," he said.
Burlington Central will play Hampshire at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the final pool play game. A Rocket win will put them in the 6:30 p.m. championship game against McHenry.
Burlington Central 101, North Boone 45: The Rockets opened the day with a rout of North Boone. Jake Lenschow led the way with 16 points, Patrick Mayfield and Jayvon Johnson added 15 each, Zach Schutta had 14, Caden Scott 12 and Michael Kalusa 11.
Elgin 64, Hampshire 56: Dan Toolsie struck for 33 points to lead the Maroons to the win in their first game of the day. Trey Yarber added 11 points for Elgin. Marcus Lazar led Hampshire with 16 points and Collin Woods added 13.
Hampshire 66, North Boone 36: Woods had 14 points to lead the Whip-Purs to the win. Lazar added 12 and Jonathan Westerlund 11 for Hampshire (5-11).
Kaneland falls twice: The Knights (6-12) fell to McHenry 77-45 and to Wheaton Academy 60-38. Blake Feiza scored 12 points in the McHenry loss then had 8 against Wheaton Academy. Rhett Espe and Luke Brost added 8 points each against Wheaton Academy.