Burlington Central stymies South Elgin in matchup of conference leaders

One thing Collin Kalamatas likes about his Burlington Central girls basketball team this season is how much they pay attention to details.

That goes for the scouting reports, knowing what to expect from an opponent.

The Rockets were ready for visiting South Elgin on Saturday in a matchup of teams leading the Fox Valley and Upstate Eight Conferences, respectively.

South Elgin likes to shoot the 3-pointer, and Burlington Central made sure not to give up many open looks in a 44-34 victory.

The Storm (18-5) finished just 3-of-19 behind the arc and didn't score more than 11 points in any quarter.

"We knew 3s were going to be a big deal for them so we worked on it a lot in practice, running them off the line," Burlington Central senior Taylor Charles said. "Once we took away the 3 it really crippled their offense."

Charles led both teams with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 blocked shots.

"We love scouting reports," the Princeton-bound Charles said. "We all get a matchup with people who we could be guarding and their weaknesses, strengths. We really try to play to those."

Burlington Central (14-7) also struggled from 3-point range, sinking just 2 of 16, but found enough offense to lead nearly the entire game.

Up 11-8 after one quarter while holding the Storm scoreless for the first four minutes, the Rockets extended their lead to 22-16 by halftime with a 9-4 run thanks to a 3-pointer from Sam Origel, Haley Lindquist's steal and layup, another Origel bucket and Page Erickson's baseline drive.

Caroline Croft scored South Elgin's first seven points of the second half, giving the Storm what turned out to be their only lead at 23-22.

Burlington Central quickly regained control, starting with an inside move by Charles before three straight baskets by Origel for a 30-23 advantage after three quarters.

"She's got a lot better these last couple months," Kalamatas said of Origel, who scored 13 points. "She's starting to understand how to score in a varsity basketball game. She definitely carried us in the third quarter."

Lauren Knief found Charles open for a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to put the Rockets up 34-23. Charles and Becca Carani both scored on backdoor cuts as South Elgin never got closer than 6 points again.

Croft led the Storm with 13 points, and Ella Winterhalder added 9 while drawing three more charges.

"If there was an All-American team for charges she would be on it," Storm coach Dan Mandernack said of Winterhalder, who became the school's all-time 3-point leader earlier this season.

"When you play a good team like that, it's hard. We're not going to get the easy points off pressure defense and transition. We count on our 3s. We took the lead in the third quarter and they went on a nice run."

Carani added 11 points and 8 rebounds for the Rockets, who enjoyed a good weekend not only with their two wins but also a loss by Huntley Friday that put them into the FVC lead.

Kalamatas was pleased with how his team defended Saturday.

"We put a lot of value into that scouting report and the girls buy into that, they look forward to that, looking at what we have to do to be successful. It's a fun part of it," he said.

"That (defending 3s) was one of our top points of emphasis, South Elgin can pour it in, their range is unlimited. It took a lot of efforts by our guards to work their butts off. I think that's what our identity is now and they embraced it."

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