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Making the most of rebound putbacks and transition buckets while limiting Genoa-Kingston’s offensive chances was the same formula Burlington Central used for a one-sided win on the Cogs’ home court in December.
Monday night the Rockets returned to that game plan for not only a third victory over Genoa-Kingston, but more importantly a 51-30 Class 3A Burlington Cetnral Regional triumph.
While both teams struggled with their shooting touch and traded unforced turnovers, Burlington Central used a 10-0 surge for a 19-9 halftime lead and then continually built its advantage to avoid any resemblance to the second meeting in which the Cogs lost a 66-63 overtime tangle.
“We went back to the formula we used the first time, doing a good job on defense by forcing them to take contested shots and limiting them to that one attempt,” Central coach Brett Porto said. “Offensively we had a few run-outs and transition buckets that got us rolling, but the big key was stopping their penetration, forcing jumpers and limiting them to one shot.”
Genoa-Kingston had the game’s first basket but then the host Rockets answered back to finish the opening quarter with a 7-2 lead. The 10-point intermission bulge was bumped to 19 during the third quarter at which time half the Burlington Central student section boarded a bus to head to the Hoffman Estates Girls 3A Supersectional where the Rockets played battling Vernon Hills.
Moter Deng and Ryan Ritchie both tallied 14 points to pace Burlington Central while Bryce Warner also chipped in 10 as the Rockets moved above the .500 mark at 14-13 with their eighth straight victory.
Burlington Central, the No. 4 seed, now hopes to use its homecourt advantage in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Hampshire (22-5), which accounted for two Rocket losses during an 0-7 start to the season.
“Getting this first win was huge and continues the momentum we’ve got with eight straight, but it’ll take a lot better than tonight to beat Hampshire,” Ritchie said. “We have to tighten things up, especially on offense. Our defensive pressure was pretty solid, holding them to one bucket in the first quarter and nine for the whole first half. But Hampshire will be a whole different game.”
Added Deng: “We haven’t beaten them in my two varsity seasons, so we’re looking forward to another chance at them.”
Deng had eight of his 15 rebounds on the offensive end to go with six blocks and a dunk that gave the Rockets a 37-18 edge heading into the final eight minutes.
“Dunks can build momentum and I enjoy them, but I also like blocks because they can do the same,” Deng said.
While Burlington Central finished atop the BNC East with an 11-1 record, Genoa-Kingston was third behind Richmond-Burton. The Cogs finish the season with a 16-12 ledger.
“The bottom line was we couldn’t finish our shots, our three-point shots didn’t drop at all,” G-K coach Corey Jenkins said. “You’ll have nights like that; but we’re better offensively than 30 points. We kept battling, but we simply gave up too many second-chance points and Central beat us down the court.”