Burlington Central starts fast, runs past Hampshire
Andrew Scharnowski learned how to stay on the court last season by hustling.
It's served him well now as a starter.
"Playing with (Burlington Central) coach (Brett) Porto, you always got to give 100% all the time," said Scharnowski, the Rockets' 6-foot-5 sophomore. "I think that's translating to my game right now."
Scharnowski earned some varsity minutes off the bench last year, but he's now an active part of a starting five that already has meshed well a few weeks into the season. He played a key role on Friday in unbeaten Burlington Central's 68-47 win over Fox Valley Conference rival Hampshire.
Scharnowski made his mark early, scoring six of his 12 points in the first quarter to help lift Burlington to an early 21-6 first quarter lead.
"Drew is a really big key to this team," Porto said. "He's such a smart basketball player ... we've told him he's passed up some (shooting) opportunities."
To Porto, Scharnowski can perhaps be a bit too unselfish sometimes with the basketball. His teammate, Zac Schmidt, sees Scharnowski stepping up a lot offensively and exhibiting the confidence the Rockets will need to be successful.
"For us to be really good, if we can have five weapons on the court -- which I think we do a lot of times -- he's that big key to take advantage," Porto said. "He came out right away, got himself some nice looks and really played well. We're going to have to have him continue to do that for sure."
Scharnowski, evidently, fits in just fine after serving as a first or second option off the bench last year.
"It definitely feels good to be out there," Scharnowski said. "I got to step up, I got some great teammates that like to feed me the ball. I just got to keep grinding for my part and going hard."
The Rockets (6-0, 4-0) harassed Hampshire (0-5, 0-4) into 16 first half turnovers to build a 39-16 advantage.
Burlington Central led by 28 points midway through the third quarter, but the Whip-Purs didn't quit, clawing back to within 62-45 after a productive fourth quarter from Ryan Smekrud, Logan Thompson and JT Parreno in which they combined for 12 points.
Smekrud had 9 points, while Parreno finished with 7 points for Hampshire.
"It's just been (varsity) inexperience, just handling (defensive) pressure for a young team, we're just not there," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said. "Any team that pressures us ... we're not used to or we're not comfortable with it. We try and replicate it in practice, but when it comes game time, we just struggle to execute."
"The second half (defensively), we didn't do as well," Schmidt said. "Our standard's going to be better defense because we're not the tallest team. We're not always the strongest, you know, but we work harder than everyone else."
"Defense, we take a lot of pride in that," Schmidt continued. "When we work on defense, we get our offensive shots going."
The Rockets were paced by Schmidt's and Carson Seyller's 15 points apiece, while Gavin Sarvis had 14 points and 4 rebounds. Nick Carpenter had 4 points, and despite foul trouble, Matthew Lemon grabbed a pair of rebounds.
The small comeback, however, was an encouraging sign for a Hampshire team still meshing on the young season.
"Really, that second half was building culture. We have to be known for being a program that plays hard and doesn't quit," Featherly said. " ... With an inexperienced team, it's a good lesson."