Sarvis leads Burlington Central past Cary-Grove
Gavin Sarvis seems to have an extra bit of athletic explosion this season with the ball in his hands.
Time off perhaps explains why.
"Ever since COVID-19 took out our sports [initially], my friends and I have been lifting. We've been doing things to help improve our game," Sarvis, a Burlington Central junior, said after the Rockets' season-opening 58-45 boys basketball win over Fox Valley Conference rival Cary-Grove on Wednesday. "We've been upping with weights, upping with vertical, all that stuff. It's all been helping."
Sarvis, one of a few key returners for the Rockets alongside Zac Schmidt, Carson Seyller and others, is expected to shoulder a bigger scoring role than last season. The 6-foot-2 guard appears ready for it based on Wednesday's performance, scoring 14 points -- primarily on acrobatic spins and drives to the rim.
"I really have to step up because last year, I wasn't a [focal point] for my team; I was there to rebound and do my thing," Sarvis said. "Now that all the seniors left, I have to be a leader to my team. So I have to show out for them and myself."
Burlington Central coach Brett Porto is glad to see it.
"Last year towards the end, [our then sophomores] got a ton of confidence that last month and a half," Porto said. "We were really hoping to build on it, but I think to those kids' credit, what they really did was they worked really hard lifting and getting better athletically in the off time that we did. You can see it out there; the Cary-Grove coach [Adam McCloud] said something about it [to me] right away. They've worked physically to get themselves there."
The Rockets took a 27-21 lead into the half and 12-point lead into the fourth quarter. C-G's Brett Green opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup to pull within 42-34, but the Rockets didn't let up.
Seyller, who finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds for the Rockets, and Schmidt hit 3-pointers for a 52-38 advantage. Talkington followed with a layup and split two free throws before C-G's Ryan Weaver made a layup to make it 52-43, but Seyller's two free throws and a layup and Nick Carpenter scored to preserve the win.
Talkington, who finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds, will be of the Trojans' top offensive and defensive threats this season after the graduation of Frank Jakubicek; one of the top talents in the Fox Valley Conference a season ago. Talkington, a backup for Jakubicek last season, is now a captain.
"I'm our center ... I try and do a lot of damage down there and help us with our spacing; kind of balance us out," Talkington said. "It was very helpful playing against Frank last year, ultimately now. You see, playing against him [at 6-foot-8] ... physically, he was huge and it kind of shows you what you have to play like to be on a good team."
"You have to play with that level of intensity and physicality in order to be that good. That's kind of what you can learn from that."
C-G went 31-3 last season, dominated the FVC and won a regional title. The Trojans had the rest of their postseason canceled because of the pandemic, before a sectional matchup with St. Charles North.
"The way our season ended [and] still being in the playoffs ... Just to be out here for the first time in ever, it felt good to be out here," McCloud said. "I knew the team [Burlington] had coming back and I knew we'd have our hands full. They'll be a really good basketball team. They've just got a lot of athletes ... I thought we handled their pressure early."
Michael Clarke had 6 points and 2 rebounds and Ryan Weaver 7 points and 8 rebounds for the Trojans.
Burlington Central had solid contributions from Carpenter with 11 points and 4 rebounds and Schmidt with 10 points and 3 rebounds.
"We turned it over; sloppy turnovers. Our chemistry right now, everybody likes each other, but we're still trying to figure out that puzzle with new guys," McCloud said. "We have one returning starter and then Clarke is obviously a heck of a ballplayer, but we've got to figure out who goes around him."