Boys basketball: Burlington Central holds on for key BNC win
By Brandon Mangia For Sun-Times Media February 8, 2013 10:58PM
Updated: February 9, 2013 2:41AM
Burlington Central felt the complete range of emotions a basketball game can offer on Friday night in a Big Northern East showdown with visiting Richmond-Burton.
Burlington Central let a 16-point lead late in the third quarter turn into a four-point deficit with 2:30 left in regulation before rallying for a 69-65 win and sole possession of first place in the division.
“I was really proud because we’ve had moments like that when things start going bad,” said Central coach Brett Porto. “It was nice to see them turn their season around.”
Burlington Central (10-13, 8-1) looked like it would be able to empty the bench in the fourth after a three-pointer from Moter Deng gave the hosts a 50-34 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the third. However, Richmond-Burton (8-15, 6-2) closed on an 8-1 run and started the fourth on a 13-4 run.
Senior Chris Vlasak tied the game at 55 with 4:14 remaining after an old-fashioned three-point play. A basket from Mike Kaska (13 points) with 2:30 left put R-B up 63-59, but Central came right back on a jumper from Brett Rau (9 points) followed by a basket from James Raney to tie it at 63.
Burlington Central’s defense took over from there, forcing turnovers on three of R-B’s last four possessions. A basket inside from Reed Hunnicutt (13 points) and a free throw from Bryce Warner gave the Burlington Central a 66-63 lead with 49 seconds left.
Still, R-B cut the deficit to one before Rau nailed two clutch free throws with 13.5 seconds left, putting Central back up by three, 66-63. With a chance to tie the game, R-B turned the ball over on an errant pass after breaking the press, sealing the win for Central.
“I thought we kind of got lax, but we battled adversity and came out on top,” Warner said. “We’re two games from winning conference now.”
Warner finished with nine points and was dominant in the paint, collecting a game-high 15 rebounds.
“They were going for their 1-2-2 zone so I was just trying to find the holes in the zone and read the ball,” Warner said.
Central won despite committing 24 turnovers, seven of which occurred during R-B’s run to erase a 16-point deficit. R-B didn’t fare much better, turning it over 21 times.
“(R-B) battled back with that big run,” Porto said. “It really came down to the last two to three minutes. We made the plays and I was just really pleased with how we responded.”
Vlasak (game-high 19 points) and Sam Kaufman help spark R-B’s comeback. Vlasak tallied 13 points in the fourth, and Kaufman scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
Deng finished with a team-high 14 points as 10 different players scored for Central.