The young team played like veterans at game’s end while the experienced team struggled in crunch time.
Burlington Central, and its core of freshmen and sophomores, rallied from 11 points down in the second half to pull out a 40-37 nonconference road victory over a senior-laden Streamwood team.
“We’ve got to get through experiences like that to be better at them,” Central coach Mark Smith said. “I thought in the first half we didn’t respond, but in the second half we played with a lot of poise.”
Sam Pryor hit a layup off an assist by Kayla Ross for the go-ahead points, 38-37, with 1:07 left, then the Rockets held on behind a defense that limited Streamwood to 2-of-8 shooting and just five total points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we played a little intimidated in the first half, a little scared,” Smith said. “I think we just kind of laid it out on the line at halftime.
“There wasn’t a lot of yelling. It was just said that you’ve got to play like you’re capable of playing. You’ve got to enjoy challenges like this to play against great teams. I thought in the second half they responded really well.”
It was true especially at the end. A missed Streamwood shot with 38 seconds left gave Central (21-4) the ball, but the Rockets turned it over on a controversial call with 23 seconds remaining. Hannah McGlone then missed inside for the Sabres while going against Rebecca Gerke, a sub who played much of the night for starter Alison Colby, who has been recovering from a concussion.
Then Camilla Delacruz dove on the floor and came up with the rebound and was fouled with six seconds left. She hit both shots and the Sabres turned it over again at the buzzer before they could attempt a game-tying three-pointer.
“We played at our tempo, not at their tempo in the second half,” Delacruz said. “We probably were a little intimidated going against them in the first half, but once we relaxed and realized we needed to play better it all just meshed together.”
Gerke had 10 points, eight in the second half, to lead the Rockets, while Delacruz and Shelby Holt had eight points each. Holt made two critical three-pointers in a span of two minutes early in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap after Streamwood led 32-25 starting the fourth quarter.
“Those two threes were just humongous,” Smith said. “We were out of it and bang, we were right back in it. Those are big buckets right there.”
Delacruz had three buckets and two steals in the third quarter when the Rockets began their comeback from a 26-15 deficit. Central had turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and shot just 20 percent from the floor as it fell behind 22-11.
“That was the worst second half, period, of the season,” Streamwood coach George Rosner said. “And it was offensively and defensively.”
The Sabres (17-6) had hit 14-of-27 from the field going into the fourth quarter before faltering down the stretch.
Still, Streamwood had a 37-36 lead with 2:32 left after Central’s Ross made a free throw. But Hannah McGlone, who had nine points and three rebounds, threw the ball away. She stole it back at the other end, but Jessica Cerda, who led Streamwood with 11 points, missed an open layup and it set up Central for Pryor’s layup.
“I give them a ton of credit,” Rosner said. “They’re young and they could have easily just gotten blown out of there. But what really was the ballgame was our inability in the first half to score, because when we had them in somewhat disarray we couldn’t score — we only scored 22 points.”