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Burlington Central's Alli DeTamble dribbles down the court as Plano's Zhate Jackson (left) and Tachae Miles (right) defend Friday. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media
After what has seemed like an eternity since Burlington Central last won a girls basketball regional title, freshman Shelby Holt had the most fitting words following the Rockets’ 38-34 victory over Plano in the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional championship game Friday night.
“This is so incredible, I just want to freeze this moment in time,” said Holt.
With the win the Rockets broke a 23-year old cold snap without a regional title. Sophomore Alison Colby had 15 points to lead Central in scoring. Holt added 10 points.
The Rockets will face Marian Central next Tuesday in the semifinals of the Genoa-Kingston Sectional.
Against Plano, Burlington Central (25-4) overcame a horrendous third quarter where it scored just two points and let a 12-point halftime lead slip away.
The Reapers briefly pulled ahead 32-31 on the first possession of the fourth quarter, but the Rockets regained the lead moments later when Samantha Pryor hit a pair of free throws to put Burlington Central on top for good 33-22 with 6:26 left to play.
With just under five minutes to play Holt added a clutch three-pointer to give the Rockets a four-point cushion. Holt had made just 2-of-9 shots from field up to that point.
“When you are off shooting you just have to keep playing through it,” said Holt. “I was going to keep trying to contribute any way I could. When I took that shot it felt good when I let it go and it came at just the right time.”
The Rockets did an outstanding job of maintaining possession and running the clock at the end of the game except for one slip up with 1:35 left when Plano’s Tachae Miles stole a midcourt inbound pass and went in for a layup to pull the Reapers to within 36-34. But Colby hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left to help seal the win.
Colby scored 12 points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers.
“We knew we had to pull out all the stops tonight if we were going to win,” said Colby. “It feels so great to be able to accomplish this.”
The Rockets had a huge advantage at the free-throw line where they made 11-of-12 attempts. Plano was just 1-of-9 from the stripe.
“Most of the girls don’t even realize the history involved,” said Central coach Mark Smith. “They just go out and play. Their natural instincts just took over tonight. We had a rough third quarter, but it was a gritty effort all the way and we were able to grind it out.”