Burlington Central's defense shines in season opener
Becca Carani swooped in for a layup midway through second quarter Monday, but it was just the start of the sequence that portrayed what her impact could be in her senior season for Burlington Central.
After Burlington Central forced another Marengo turnover, an outlet pass found Carani again for another bucket. A few possessions later, Carani helped force a turnover, showcasing in a small sample that it's not just her offense that the Rockets can rely on this season.
"I feel like definitely my teammates help me with getting the energy to play good defense," Carani said following Burlington's 53-21 season-opening victory on Monday. "I think they all encourage; we all feed off each other's energy. I think, from our defense, we can make a lot of scoring on offense."
"Anybody can have a huge scoring night. It just depends on who really wants to hustle," said Carani, who finished with a team-high 14 points and four rebounds. "I think anybody on our team can have that type of night."
The Rockets forced 24 turnovers. After Burlington Central took a 27-16 lead at the half, Marengo was held scoreless the entire third quarter and took four shooting attempts.
Rockets senior Rylie DuVal's role in past seasons has generally been limited to defense and the hustle plays with the offense primarily being taken care of by the likes of Kat Schmidt and Elana Wells.
This season, the door has opened for her to take a more active offensive role. Her customary defensive effort will still be full-throttle, though.
"The hustle is still a big part of the game; always will be," said DuVal, who had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. "But even with the team, everyone is starting to hustle all together. It makes it easier for me when I pass the ball, knowing it's going to eventually come back; being able to pass it back [to] who is also hustling down the floor."
"Hustle plays make good offense," DuVal continued. "It's easy being able to hustle and getting it to Becca to score and even vice versa."
Burlington Central coach Collin Kalamatas thinks those defensive plays are starting to make a positive impact on the offensive end for DuVal.
"She's always been very hesitant to shoot in the last couple years," Kalamatas said. "I think she's blossoming a little bit with her new role of being a little bit of a scorer. We lost some perimeter scoring from last year, obviously, and she's taken that to heart to really kind of pick up some of the pieces."
DuVal's offseason focus mainly centered on shooting.
"I knew my team does a really good job getting open," DuVal said. "So for me, it was more getting to work well with everyone else on the team, taking more of that point guard role. I did score here and there, but I took the role of making sure I know to distribute the ball."
Taylor Charles rounded out the Rockets' top scorers with six points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Marengo (0-1) is working its way through acclimating a number of newcomers into the mix. Morgan Coffman and Addie Johnson are two starters that have come back.
Bella Frohling and Johnson each had six points. Gianna Almeida had five points.
"[Burlington Central's] pressure bothered us," Marengo coach Elisa Hanson said. "You've got to be strong with the ball and have our head up and be willing to play a physical game for four quarters ... we knew it was going to be a tough battle."