Ryan Ritchie craved two things Monday evening.
The Burlington Central senior wanted his first postseason victory and another shot at Hampshire. Ritchie had to get one to earn the other.
Ritchie scored 14 points to help the Rockets to a 51-30 victory over Genoa-Kingston in the play-in game of the Class 3A Burlington Central boys basketball regional.
“To get that first playoff win was awesome,” said Ritchie, a three-year varsity player. “For it to be Hampshire the next game, I think that’s a perfect setup. It’s a rival team. It’s going to be packed in the gym. I’m so pumped to play in that environment.”
No. 4 seed Central (14-13) will play top seed Hampshire (22-5) at 6 p.m. today in the regional semifinals. The Rockets has won seven consecutive games. They lost twice to Hampshire when they started the season 0-7.
“Every turnover is going to be like 100. So we’re going to have to step it up,” said Central senior Moter Deng, who finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Cogs.
Central led 7-2 after the first quarter Monday as both teams struggled from the floor. The teams combined to go 4-for-26 in the opening 8 minutes. The game was tied 9-9 midway through the second quarter when the Rockets took control. Deng’s hook shot in the paint gave Central an 11-9 lead and sparked a 10-0 run to end the first half.
“I thought we were able to get a couple runouts in transition to kind of fuel our offense,” Rockets coach Brett Porto said. “We feel more comfortable in that kind of style.”
Brett Rau hit a pair of free throws and Ritchie nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner in the first 40 seconds of the third quarter to to extend the run to 15-0 and the Rockets lead to 24-9.
The fifth-seeded Cogs (16-11) wouldn’t get any closer than 11 the rest of the game. G-K shot just 18 percent (11-for-61).
“That’s the bottom line of tonight’s game. We couldn’t finish around the basket. Three-point land shots didn’t drop for us as well,” Cogs coach Corey Jenkins said. “When I stat this out, I’d hate to see our shooting percentage.”
Tommy Lucca led the Cogs with 14 points.
Bryce Warner had a double-double for Central with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Rockets outrebounded G-K, 45-35.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.