Burlington Central rebounds from Huntley loss
A loss to Fox Valley Conference leader Huntley on Saturday didn't sit well with Burlington Central.
Luckily for the Rockets, they had a quick turnaround to get out any frustration against another top conference contender in Prairie Ridge.
Behind 23 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks from Princeton commit Taylor Charles, Burlington led from start to finish in a 49-35 win over Prairie Ridge and snapped the Wolves' 14-game winning streak in the process.
The win vaulted the Rockets into sole possession of second place in the FVC after the two teams held identical conference records. Monday's loss for Prairie Ridge was its first since Dec. 15, also against Burlington.
"Saturday was more of a mental lapse with the way we played against Huntley," Rockets coach Collin Kalamatas said. "The approach coming into today was we've got to be mentally focused from the start. I told the girls that was the best 32 minutes we've played all year from start to finish: physically, doing all the intangibles, getting on the floor, playing tough.
"I'm just really proud of them after this one."
Charles was almost unstoppable for the Rockets and had 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks by halftime. She scored the final three field goals of the first half to give Burlington (17-8, 11-2 FVC) a 24-11 lead at the break.
Charles entered Monday's game 25 points from 1,000 in her career, but came up two short of hitting the mark. She will have a chance to reach the milestone Wednesday against Jacobs.
Prairie Ridge coach Tim Taege was impressed with Charles' all-around game.
"Her length you can't teach, but the discipline part is impressive," Taege said. "She stays within her space and she's never in foul trouble despite always being around the basketball, and we knew that was going to be a struggle.
"We talked about not driving into her, it's going to end poorly, and I think we did that 10 times in the first quarter alone."
Becca Carani had nine points and four assists for Burlington, while Page Erickson had seven points. Rylie DuVal had only four points but played tough defense against Prairie Ridge senior guard Karsen Karlblom, who entered the game averaging 19.8 points a game.
Karlblom finished with 11 points and two 3s. Elani Nanos led the Wolves (21-4, 10-3) with 12 points and three 3s. Kelly Gende added seven points and six rebounds.
"Really, I just wanted to make it so hard for her to catch the ball," DuVal said of guarding Karlblom. "She's a very talented player so she's going to get the ball sometimes, but I just wanted to limit how many times she touched the ball."
DuVal also came up with a clutch 3 near the end of the third quarter after Karlblom knocked down one of her two 3s during an 8-2 run for Prairie Ridge. That run for the Wolves cut Burlington's lead from 14 points down to 30-22 in the final two minutes of the third.
DuVal said she went into the game with some back pain and was focusing on stopping Karlblom. Her only bucket of the game was a big momentum changer.
"That was huge for us," Charles said of DuVal's 3. "She was not feeling that good coming into the game, so the fact that she was able to turn it out and just help us like that just shows how much she loves this team."
Burlington trails Huntley, which beat Hampshire, 55-27, on Monday, by one in the loss column with five FVC games remaining. The Rockets travel to Jacobs and Cary-Grove this week and host Huntley at 7 p.m. Jan. 7.
That game could go a long way in determining who wins the FVC.
Burlington is trying to win its second straight FVC title after beating Huntley in the FVC Tournament final last season.
"Saturday's loss [to Huntley] was a bit of a sad one, and we just wanted to come back and turn things around," Charles said. "I was just really trying to attack. With the zone [defense] they left me open in the middle, so I was just trying to attack and work from the inside out.
"We want to win conference and get that No. 1 [postseason seed]. That's everyone's goal, and that's our goal, too."