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Elgin's Isaiah Butler lifts a shot past Burlington Central's Jacob Schutta on Tuesday. | Michele du Vair~For Sun-Times Media
Coasting to victory isn’t always as easy as one might think.
Elgin got a reminder of that lesson Tuesday night in a 52-44 nonconference win at Burlington Central. The Maroons led by as many as 20 points late in the third quarter before the winless Rockets ripped off an 18-4 run to help tighten the final score.
The victory was never in serious jeopardy for Elgin (5-3) thanks in part to the efforts of junior Isaiah Butler. The 6-foot guard came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points, including two on a steal and breakaway dunk for the first points of the second half.
“I’d rather be off the bench than start,” Butler said. “I’m so unknown that people think, ‘Oh, he’s just a bench a player.’ Then I just bring the spark for the whole team and everybody gets in the zone.”
Burlington Central (0-7) paid particularly close defensive attention to Elgin senior Arie Williams, turning the four-year varsity standout into more of a facilitator than scorer. Williams attempted only three three-pointers and finished with nine points, well below his season average of 23.9 coming into the contest.
Eric Sedlack (nine points) and Ryan Sitter (eight points, seven rebounds, four steals) helped pick up the slack for the Maroons, who used an 11-4 run to open a commanding 46-26 lead with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
With a showdown against rival Larkin looming Wednesday, Elgin’s players admit they were looking ahead a bit down the stretch. The Maroons committed 12 of their 21 turnovers in the second half and made only 1-of-6 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rockets to come as close as 50-44 on Moter Deng’s three-pointer with nine seconds left.
“We just lost our minds a little,” Sitter said. “We weren’t aggressive enough. We’re all kind of hyped for (Larkin) and were looking past this one maybe a little.”
Added Elgin coach Mike Sitter: “It’s not the first time this year we’ve had a lead and let people back into the game. We’ve got to get a little better at that.”
Deng finished with a team-high 13 points for Burlington Central while junior center Duncan Ozburn added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rockets committed 20 turnovers, including eight during the second quarter when they were outscored 17-7. Nonetheless, the team was able to identify some positives as it continues to search for its first win.
“All week in practice we’ve been working really hard to get ourselves out of this hole we’ve obviously dug for ourselves,” Ozburn said. “I think today we played like a team in the second half. We’ve just got to play the entire game like that.”
ELGIN 52, BURLINGTON CENTRAL 44
Butler 9 0-0 21, Williams 3 2-2 9, Sedlack 4 0-1 9, Sitter 3 0-0 8, Dunner 1 2-4 4, Bednar 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 5-9 52.
Burlington Central (0-7)
Deng 5 1-2 13, Ozburn 4 4-4 12, Ritchie 2 1-2 6, McCurdy 2 0-0 4, Hunnicutt 2 0-0 4, Harris 1 0-0 3Warner 1 0-1 2. Totals 17 6-9 44.
Elgin 16 17 13 6 -- 52
BC 11 7 10 16 -- 44
Three-point goals – Elgin: 7 (Butler 3, Sitter 2, Williams, Sedlack). BC: 4 (Deng 2, Harris, Ritchie). Fouled out – None.