Burlington Central hoops bashes Kaneland for doubleheader sweep
BURLINGTON – Burlington Central boys basketball coach Brett Porto sported a bright, blue blazer for "Pack the Place" night Saturday, an ensemble ripe for teasing from his players.
Central senior guard Jacob Schutta wasn't taking the bait.
"It gives us energy in the locker room," Schutta said with a smile about his coach's flashy threads. "It gets us going on a special occasion."
The Rockets reciprocated, riling up their large crowd by running Kaneland off the floor in a 67-43 rout. The win capped a Central sweep of the doubleheader after the Rockets' girls team pounded Kaneland, 54-33.
The boys result marked the largest margin of defeat on the season for the Knights (8-5), who did not respond well after an emotional, last-second win against Morris the night before.
"I think we could have been a little mentally tougher, a little more focused coming in," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. "But that can't be an excuse. We have six seniors on our team, five who have played a lot of minutes. We need to come out and we need to compete."
The Rockets also played Friday, and were coming off a win against Richmond-Burton. Central (12-4) had little trouble regrouping to face the Knights.
Four Central starters finished in double figures, led by Schutta's season-high 17 points on 4 of 4 shooting from 3-point land.
"Once that first one goes in, it just builds the confidence, and you keep going from there," Schutta said.
Central also received solid contributions from seniors Brett Rau (12 points), Reed Hunnicutt (11 points, seven rebounds) and big man Duncan Ozburn (10 points, eight rebounds).
The Rockets led, 33-23 at halftime, and padded their lead to 16 points by the end of the third quarter. Soon after, Johnson replaced all five players as a concession to a clunker of a performance.
"They're a good team, without a doubt," Johnson said of Central. "I think they're a very good team, and we showed what our deficiencies are."
Ty Carlson, fresh off his game-winner on Friday, led the Knights with 13 points while John Pruett added nine.
Porto hoped the largely uptempo performance "sets the standard" for the way his squad is capable of clicking.
"Brian does a great job, and for us to match [Kaneland's] effort and fight, and I think we exceeded it at certain points, I think it speaks volumes for the team," Porto said.
The girls game wasn't much closer as the Rockets (14-2) streaked to a 17-6 lead after the opening quarter and were never seriously threatened.
Central forward Sam Pryor was effective inside early and then found her perimeter shooting stroke, draining a trio of 3-pointers in the second half. Pryor scored a game-high 21 points and had 10 rebounds.
Kaneland (9-9) took rushed shots and struggled from the free throw line but produced a silver lining in its own double-double performer, post threat Kelly Wallner. Wallner, donning goggles, led Kaneland with 15 points and had 10 of her 14 rebounds by halftime.
"And they've got a strong inside game," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said of Central. "They've got three or four kids in there, so she's really working hard."
Coach Mark Smith's youthful but talented Rockets are known as a terrific defensive team, so Kaneland has plenty of company in struggling to find its offense against the Rockets.
"It's a combination of them playing good defense and us being a little inexperienced there," Colombe said.
Shelby Holt and Alison Colby added nine points each for Central.