Burlington crashes boards, turns away Marengo
It looked as though the boys from Marengo had springs tucked inside their basketball shoes.
The Indians grabbed 5 offensive rebounds in the game's first 35 seconds and the first 12 rebounds overall to take an 8-0 lead, but Burlington Central adjusted and dominated the glass the rest of the way to gain a 63-55 victory in the Big Northern Conference East opener for the host Rockets Tuesday.
Burlington Central (3-3, 1-0) outrebounded Marengo (2-4, 1-1) the rest of the game by a 38-20 count.
Marengo led 13-9 after a quarter, but Central reserve Clint Creal (6-foot-2) came off the bench to help turn the tide. Creal grabbed 4 rebounds, 2 offensive, and scored all 7 of his points in the second quarter as the Rockets won the period 22-15 to take a 31-28 halftime lead.
"Rebounding is a weakness we have right now," Creal said. "We haven't been boxing out too well. We just wanted to get in there and rebound as much as we could. We had the height advantage."
Central coach Brett Porto switched out of man-to-man defense in favor of a zone late in the second quarter, and he stuck with it throughout the second half.
"Playing zone you've got guys in spots around the rim," Porto said. "In times in man-to-man, you can get out of rebounding position, so that helped. But (rebounding) was just more a point of emphasis."
Central's offense had trouble finding its rhythm, but a 7-0 run to start the second half gave the Rockets breathing room for the first time. Ryan Ritchie opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, Ray Hunnicutt sank a transition basket and Reed Hunnicutt capped the run with a 12-foot jump shot.
However, the momentum was slowed when Ritchie picked up an offensive foul, his fourth, followed by a technical. He was disqualified with 5 fouls with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Led by 8 of senior forward Zach Lundquist's game-high 27 points, the Indians pulled within 45-41 at the end of three quarters.
Another Central run at the start of the third quarter restored order. Junior Moter Deng (6-4) scored 2 free throws and a putback basket and 6-6 sophomore center Duncan Ozburn banked home a second-chance bucket from the lane for 51-41 lead with 4:15 to play.
Ray Hunnicutt scored 12 of his team-best 16 points in the second half, including a 4-of-5 shooting performance from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The Rockets shot 23 of 59 from the floor (39 percent).
"It was ugly, but we got it done," Hunnicutt said. "We wanted to play a little better. We didn't adjust to the calls being made. It was sloppy, but we got it done. That's all that matters right now."
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