The youthful Burlington Central Rockets weren't about to get rattled after a sluggish start.
Down 11-1 late in the first quarter, the top-seeded Rockets regained their composure and rallied for a 49-35 win over 10th-seeded Belvidere in semifinal action of the Class 3A Marengo girls basketball regional Tuesday night.
The Rockets (27-3) will play host Marengo for the regional title Thursday at 7 p.m. The fifth-seeded Indians nipped fourth seed Rock Falls 39-38.
"We have had slow starts before this season and we knew we had plenty of time to get it together," said Central coach Mark Smith. "Regionals are a different season. If you have to muck it up to win you do what you have to do. We knew Belvidere would be tough. They play in the NIC 10 against powerhouses like Boylan and Hononegah. They are battled test and were ready to play. Our young kids didn't panic and we battled through our nerves. We won and advanced. That's what you do at this time of the season."
Trailing 13-4 after 1 quarter, the Rockets started taking control of the game in the second quarter.
Spearheaded by 4 points each by Kathryn Schmidt and Elana Wells Central tallied the first 8 points of the second 8 minutes and cut the deficit to 13-12 with 4:52 left in the first half.
Belvidere didn't score in the quarter until the 2:56 mark on a putback by Bryanna Williams to make the score 15-12.
Central took its first lead of the game 17-16 with 2:22 left before intermission on a layup by Reili Gardner.
With the Rockets leading 20-16 at halftime, Schmidt took over in the third quarter. The Central sophomore forward drilled three 3-pointers and scored 11 points and the Rockets turned a 4-point halftime lead into a 34-22 advantage with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
Schmidt, with four 3s, ended with 20 points, 15 in the second half.
"We lost in this first round game last season so we played nervous and rushed shots to start the game," said Schmidt. "Coach Smith kept us positive and said things would turn out all right. We settled down and took better shots. I give all the credit to my teammates. They did a great job of getting the basketball to me in great position to score. It is good to get that first win out of the way."
Wells, the Rockets' freshman point guard, equaled Schmidt with 20 points including 2 treys. She was 8-of-10 from the free throw line and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"Elana plays with a lot of confidence and she has a lot of talent," said Smith. "She is getting better every day and played great in her first postseason game."
Maya Smith led the Bucs with 13 including 3 treys and Addison Dylak tallied 11 with three 3s.