Burlington Central cruises to win in regular season finale

SHARE Burlington Central cruises to win in regular season finale

With the exception of two close wins over Rockford Christian, the Big Northern East did little to prepare Burlington Central for the upcoming postseason run.

So after wrapping up a second straight unbeaten BNC-East schedule Wednesday, the Rockets were thankful for the first half they got Thursday from Class 4A nonconference foe Glenbard West before pulling away behind Sam Pryor’s 22 points with a regular season-ending 50-34 road victory.

“I thought tonight’s game was good preparation for next week,” said Central coach Mark Smith, whose young team made the 3A supersectional last year. “We scouted them, we knew they would play hard even though they’ve only got one or two wins. And in the second half we played much better because we took care of the ball. And Sam Pryor had a monster game again.”

Pryor, a sophomore forward, had 17 of her 22 points in the second half. That included three of her four three-pointers.

“They just got me great looks,” she said of her teammates. “I have to get the ball to score, and it was all just great passing by my team.”

Alison Colby may have set up Pryor’s big second half by being the inside threat with eight of her 10 points in the first two quarters when Central (22-4) struggled for a 21-19 lead.

“We have it set up where I’m short corner, flashing both sides,” she said. “It’s helping get it wide open for Sam.”

Glenbard West (2-25), used to facing difficult 4A teams night-in and night-out, got nine points from Grey Hayes and Emma Kiel, and made it a game until Central opened the second half with a 12-0 run for a 33-19 lead. Pryor hit two three-pointers and a layup, and Shelby Holt hit a three-pointer in the run.

Glenbard West wasn’t through, cutting it to 33-27 by the fourth quarter. Then Central’s defense, led by Kayla Ross, took over. Ross finished with five steals and the Hilltoppers committed six fourth-quarter turnovers.

Ross made a steal and fed Pryor for the final two points in a 7-2 Central run — all seven coming from Pryor — and it put the game out reach.

Central had eight points from Ross for the game, and in the fourth quarter the Rockets did something they’ll have to do well in Tuesday’s Aurora Christian Class 3A Regional—make free throws. Central, which opens the regional against Monday’s IMSA-Rosary winner, went 10-of-13 at the line in the fourth quarter.

“We’ll be confident going into our first game on Tuesday night, and hopefully on Thursday, also,” Smith said.

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