GENOA – Friday evening’s Burlington Central at Genoa-Kingston boys basketball game had the atmosphere of a postseason contest.
The stands were full, fans from both schools filled the seats, the student sections were loud.
“We haven’t seen this atmosphere (at G-K) since our Sweet 16 back in 2011,” Cogs coach Corey Jenkins said. “There was a good vibe in the gym today.”
However, the game itself wasn’t the close, nail-biting affair you would expect from two teams fighting for a conference title. Instead, the Rockets had their way with the Cogs for most of the game, winning 58-49.
“It was nice to see our defense and rebounding get back to the level I think we can play it at,” Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said. “I thought that was key for us. If we could fix decision-making and some free-throw shooting which has kind of been our Achilles heel the last couple weeks, we don’t even let them back into it.”
The Rockets improved to 16-6 overall, 6-2 in the Big Northern East, and put themselves into a tie with the Cogs (14-7, 6-2) for second place in the conference.
Richmond-Burton has the lead with just one loss. Burlington Central overcame three straight turnovers to start the game and led 10-6 after the first quarter and 28-19 at the half. A 3-pointer by James Raney made it 40-23 midway through the third. The Cogs made a second-half run and would get to within 10 points in the final minute, but it was just too late.
The Rockets presented some matchup problems inside with their size, which included the likes of 6-9 Duncan Ozburn. The Cogs weren’t able to get into the lane like they wanted to.
“We settled for outside shots in the first half, and they just weren’t falling,” G-K senior forward Sal Lopez said. “Second half we changed that a bit and made the comeback, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Tommy Lucca led G-K with 19 points. Lopez, Tommy Hansen and Colin Broderick each had six.
With four league games left, the Cogs are still in the race for a BNC East crown. It’s also possible they could see the Rockets, who G-K beat earlier this season, again come postseason time. Both teams are part of the same regional, which will be held at G-K.
“We’ll be alright. I think we’re in good shape,” Jenkins said. “We’re still up top, in the top three.”