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After dropping its first seven games of the season against some tough competition, Burlington Central is starting to turn things around at just the right time.
The Rockets captured their second straight win on Tuesday night with a 64-41 rout at Genoa-Kingston to improve to 2-0 in the Big Northern East. Moter Deng led a balanced attack with 14 points. Bryce Warner and Duncan Ozburn each added 12 points. And Ryan Ritchie also finished in double digits with 11 points.
The difference over the last two games has come down to three things, according to Central coach Brett Porto.
“Our free-throw shooting has really improved, we are making better decisions on the offensive end, and we’ve revamped our defense,” said Porto. “I think we are maturing and guys are taking it more personal. Nobody wants to be 0-7 and I didn’t expect things to start out that way. But I think playing that tough schedule has got us ready for the conference and the rest of the season. I think we are starting to turn the corner.”
Central (2-7, 2-0) jumped out to a 23-11 lead after one quarter thanks to some red-hot shooting. The Rockets hit 8-of-11 shots from the field to open the game. However, they went into a 1-for-14 funk in the second quarter, but still managed to hold on to a tenuous 29-25 advantage at the half.
The Rockets quickly got back on track, scoring the first six points of the third quarter on a baseline jumper from Ozburn, a pair of free throws from Deng, and a floater in the lane from Reed Hunnicutt, to open a 35-25 lead.
Central blew the game open in the fourth quarter. The Cogs (7-3, 2-2) turned the ball over the first four times down the court, leading to a 9-0 Rockets run. Central went on to outscore G-K 22-7 in the final period.
“We picked up the intensity on defense and slowed it down a little bit on offense,” said Deng. “We were just trying to be patient. Playing in the conference now has kind of given us a new start and I think we are beginning to pull it together.”
The Rockets shot 21-of-26 from the free-throw line, including 12-of-15 in the final quarter to help seal the win.
Adam Price had 14 points to lead G-K.
“It kind of got away from us in the fourth quarter,” said G-K coach Corey Jenkins. “We were able to respond in the first half when we got behind. We didn’t respond so well down the stretch.”