Burlington Central is dripping with confidence.
It’s certainly evident on the court. The Rockets opened the second half against Jacobs with an attempt at the spectacular. Andrew Scharnowski, a 6-7 junior, could have easily converted a fast break for a layup, probably even a dunk.
Instead he opted for the spectacular, throwing the ball off the backboard for his trailing teammate Gavin Sarvis to throw down the slam. They almost pulled it off, but the dunk rimmed out.
“We do that a lot in practice and we are always throwing it down and trying to have fun,” Scharnowski said. “So we tried to take that into a game.”
The confidence may be even bolder off the court. When asked about the team’s goals for the season Scharnowski didn’t dither around about taking things one game at a time. His answer was bold: “We are going to win state.”
The ultra-confident Rockets knocked off visiting Jacobs 62-36 on Wednesday. Scharnowski had 12 points and six rebounds and Nick Carpenter added 13 points and six rebounds.
Burlington Central led by 12 at halftime and busted the game open in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Jackson led the Golden Eagles (3-12, 1-4) with 15 points and Nick McCoy scored nine.
Burlington Central coach Brett Porto laughed about the off-the-backboard dunk attempt after the game. He said he’s seen his team pull it off four times in the summer but not in a real game.
“That may have been my fault,” Porto said. “There were so many alumni here and we were excited. We were trying to make this Wednesday night in January a little bit more. It was probably a little early for that. I was kicking myself a little bit for some of the build-up before that.”
Burlington Central (13-2, 6-0 Fox Valley) has averaged 26 wins a year since 2015, but to most fans it is primarily known as the school that Cully Payne started at before transferring to Schaumburg.
That’s changing completely this season. Fans that weren’t aware of the Rockets learned all about them last week. Burlington Central won the Plano Holiday Tournament in breakout fashion.
The Rockets knocked off Yorkville Christian and Duke recruit Jaden Schutt in the semifinals.
“That was just exciting,” Scharnowski said. “It was so much fun to be on that court. We love those experiences. Everybody on the team was ready to play and we just came out and did what we had to do.”
Burlington Central has surpassed all expectations so far. Tremendous gym with an awesome rocket, stylish cafeteria and even basketball records. pic.twitter.com/kuKrD1T46L— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) January 6, 2022
The championship game win was even more spectacular. Burlington Central beat Peoria Notre Dame, widely considered one of the best teams in Central Illinois, on a buzzer-beater in overtime by Nick Carpenter.
“The first half of the year some of our players were hesitant, including myself,” Scharnowski said. “It really helped us to play against those big names and score. That just gave us the confidence and that is going to keep coming every game.”
The Rockets were 16-1 in the short COVID season last year. They are a Class 3A team.
“The last really big game before [the Plano Tournament] was the regional championship when most of these guys were sophomores,” Porto said. “To go through Yorkville Christian with a thousand people there and a great Peoria Notre Dame team and execute on short turnarounds with something on the line, it was really emotional.”