Though the Batavia boys basketball team snapped Burlington Central's school-record 20-game winning streak with Saturday's 64-62 home victory, the Rockets relished the big-game experience 10 days ahead of their playoff opener.
"This is exactly what we wanted minus maybe getting the win," Central coach Brett Porto said. "We played really hard, we got after it, we gave them a game and we were right there at the end."
Central (23-3), the No. 9 team in Class 3A, pushed Class 4A Batavia (21-7) to the brink on its Senior Night.
"A 20-game win streak is pretty impressive, 3A or 4A, so we knew they were going to be ready," Batavia guad Kyle LeFevre said. "They played really hard. They're a good team. It's a good win."
Central's Patrick Mayfield scored 11 of his career-high 34 points in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-4 junior's breakaway layup with 60 seconds left, courtesy of a steal on the press by Dejsani Beamon, drew the Rockets within 59-57.
Batavia's Jayden Johnson was fouled at the other end and sank both free throws for a 4-point lead. Riley Cooper later split a pair from the line with 28.5 seconds left following a missed baseline jump shot by Zach Schutta.
Batavia seemed assured of the win after Mayfield's pocket was picked from behind by Blake Carlson, who, in turn, was fouled with 13.6 seconds to go. However, he missed both free throws, Schutta grabbed the rebound, was fouled and sank 2 super-bonus free throws to draw the Rockets within 62-59 with 12.9 left.
Batavia's Andrew Heinz was subsequently fouled and made both free throws with 11.9 seconds remaining to restore the 5-point lead. That was critical considering Mayfield went on to swish a 3-pointer with five seconds left to make it a 2-point game.
However, the Rockets were out of timeouts. Thus, the Bulldogs survived the upset bid without having to inbound the ball.
"They are so well disciplined and well coached. Just an all-around team." Cooper said of the Rockets. "They can go inside, they can play defense, they mix up their defense. They're tough to guard, honestly. They're real tough to guard. We just did a good job of finding people and making plays and making shots."
Cooper made one of those shots down the stretch. He drained his only attempt of the game, a 3-pointer with 3:28 to go. It staked the Bulldogs to a 5-point lead at the time.
Likewise, LeFevre drove from the perimeter with 1:25 left, was fouled and completed a much-needed three-point play to put the Bulldogs ahead by 6.
"They have 23 wins for a reason," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said of Central. "They don't give up. They keep pressing. They play through bad stretches. I mean, that's a bunch of winners over there. They do a great job."
Mayfield fscored his 34 points on 11-of-14 shooting. He also made 3 steals and grabbed 7 rebounds. He said taking an Upstate Eight team to the wire on its home floor is confidence builder.
Eric Peterson led Batavia with 17 points to go with 3 blocked shots, and Johnson finished with 13 points.
"They're a good team and we came out and played our best," Mayfield said. "For us to come out and give them a game like this was a lot of fun. This was a good test for us to see where we're at for the postseason. I think we're at a good spot."
Shutta was held to 11 points, 8 below his average, and Beamon had 8 points, 5 assists and 3 steals for Central.