Christian Life's Box Throws Rockets off Game They Know

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Fitzpatrick

GENOA - There is a reason we hear ad nauseam that defense wins championships.

Because it's true.

But what defense did all year in the case of Burlington Central was slightly different; it ignited a fastbreak offense that made the Rockets a sectional qualifier for the fifth time in six years.

However, on a cold first night of March in Genoa, that defense simply couldn't stop the oftentimes visionary passing of 6-foot-4 Rockford Christian Life senior Jeremiah Box. Thus, the fastbreak offense the Rockets relied upon so heavily never had a chance to get fully into gear.

Central had trimmed the Eagles' 4-point halftime lead to 27-25 on a drive to the hoop by senior forward Kas Wleklinksi, who had endured a frustrating second quarter mostly as a spectator due to foul trouble.

Box answered Wleklinski's basket by tormenting the Central defense with a move the Rockets will be seeing in their sleep for the next several nights. He took the ball at the top of the key, drove right, drew an additional post defender to him, then dished left - sometimes without looking - to junior Nate Winger low on the baseline for a layup. Next time down the court he did it again. Then again.

Before BC knew it, the deficit was up to 8 points, and the Rockets were forced to chase the entire second half.

"Chris Ritchie did a really good job of keeping (Box) in front of him, but it seemed like our kids were helping when they didn't have to," Rockets coach Chris Payne said.

But that's what happens when a talent the likes of Box is driving the lane. Players naturally want to help defend against his drives. Unfortunately for Central, Box made them pay each time they doubled and left a man alone in the post.

"We just had a complete lack of focus on defense," Rockets' captain Rob Stover said. "Later, we even got caught a few times not running back (after a made basket) and that never happens. Our heads just weren't where they needed to be."

Actually, their heads were in the game, Box just put them on a swivel. …