SYCAMORE – After going up five points at the end of the third quarter, Sycamore had Burlington Central right where it wanted the Rockets.
But the Rockets (3-0) turned up their defensive pressure and held the Spartans scoreless for about five minutes in the fourth quarter. They also took advantage of second-chance opportunities. The Rockets went on a 10-0 run, and the Spartans never got closer than three points as BC won its final pool play game in Sycamore’s Leland G. Strombom Holiday Tournament to reach Saturday’s title game against Sterling.
“Me personally, I’m just trying to get in the flow of basketball still because I’ve only had a couple practices,” Sycamore’s Grant McConkey said. “Then us as a team together, we haven’t played anything together really, so we’re just trying to get in the flow of things, learn, and trust the offense.”
McConkey is part of a crew of Spartans who have had limited basketball practice because of the late football season. He scored 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals.
“They picked up their defensive pressure, and we didn’t do as great a job taking care of the ball,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said.
The size and strength of the Rockets’ Jake Lenschow allowed little leeway around the basket for the Spartans.
After Carson Seyller made a shot early in the fourth quarter and several BC stops, Seyller laid in another bucket and Lenschow added onto the lead with consecutive baskets for a 41-36 Rockets advantage.
“Defensively, we try to have a lot of ball pressure,” Lenschow said. “I think we bothered them a little bit in the half court. Then they started making mistakes, and we capitalized in the second half.
Lenschow was aggressive in attacking the hoop, scoring eight points in the first half on his way to 19.
By the numbers: Sycamore’s Lukas Overhaug scored seven of his 12 points in the first quarter and knocked down two 3-pointers.
The Spartans shot 5 of 21 in the first half. Jackson Johnson had eight rebounds and two blocks. Matthew Reuscher added five points and two blocks for Sycamore.
Beyond the stats: McConkey’s last-second shot to end the third quarter banked in off the glass as the senior guard nearly fell into the Spartans’ bench. Sycamore led, 36-31, after the third.
They said it: “After halftime, third quarter, I thought we played really, really well,” Stacy said. “We were unselfish, we were patient, and did a really good job running the offense and executing.”
Up next: Sycamore is scheduled to play Rochelle at
4:30 p.m. Saturday. BC will face Sterling in the championship game about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.