Burlington Central overcomes adversity, Rockford Boylan
Burlington Central was forced to negotiate a couple potholes on its road to the Class 3A Crystal Lake South sectional championship game.
The Rockets lost leading scorer Gavin Sarvis with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter with his third foul. One quarter later, 6-foot-7 Drew Scharnowski picked up his third and went to the bench.
But Burlington reached 30 wins with its overall balance and the Rockets hung tough through the first half, then unleashed a 41-point second half for a 61-45 over Boylan in the first semifinal Tuesday.
"We have so many guys who can play basketball at a high level and I just knew the next man would step up and make the plays, and that's what happened," said forward Nick Carpenter, who tied for the team lead with 14 points.
Burlington (31-3) faces St. Francis (26-8) at 7 p.m. Friday for the sectional championship. The Spartans beat Wauconda, 52-46, in Tuesday's second semifinal, scoring the game's final 12 points over the last three minutes.
Sarvis, who shared game-high honors with Carpenter with 14 points, picked up an offensive foul on the game's first possession. He picked up his second on defense and was called for a charge on the next trip downcourt before a substitute could get in.
"We became a little concerned, but we've been in foul trouble the whole season so we've been able to cope with it and know what to do in situations like that," Sarvis said. "The five that were in there played amazing. We ended the half up six and that's all we can ask for."
Boylan (23-10) clawed back into the game after falling down 10-0, cutting the lead to 20-14 at halftime.
"I was very concerned. Everyone knows what type of players Drew and Gavin are for us," Rockets coach Brett Porto said. "That was a very physical game and to have them out, our bench really stepped up.
"Not having certain pieces on offense against a team that plays really good defense. We got things going toward the end of the second quarter and when Drew and Gavin got back, then we started to roll."
Sarvis scored seven of the Rockets' first nine points in the second half. Scharnowski had the other two.
"We wanted to get Gavin going and Drew going early, they'd been out a while and they came right out and responded right away," Porto said. "It was great to see."
Boylan cut the lead back to 11 in the fourth quarter, but as the Titans pressured the ball, Burlington consistently whipped passes inside to Carpenter for layups. He scored eight in the fourth quarter.
"We played our guts out. Our first four minutes (falling behind 10-0), our bus broke down coming out here and we started the game like that," Titans coach Brett McAllister said. "For the next 28 minutes, as an undersized group we just played our guts out. They're really good, they're really physical, they took us out of our stuff defensively in the half-court."
Luke Leombruni came off the bench to lead Boylan with 13 points and Tristian Ford scored 10.
Scharnowski scored 10, Zac Schmidt added nine and Trestan Wagner came off the bench with two 3s and eight points for the Rockets.
Burlington is back in a sectional title game for the third time in five years, and the fifth time in school history. The Rockets are still looking for their first sectional championship.
"We have a good opportunity to make school history and be the first team to ever win a sectional," Carpenter said. "We put in two good days of practice, it's going to be a dogfight, but we have the guys who can pull through."
"I think we're going to win. We have the skills, we have the effort, we're doing everything we need," Sarvis said. "I feel like we have a chance to go all the way."