Girls basketball: Taylor Charles leads Burlington Central past Jacobs

Burlington Central’s Taylor Charles, right, eludes Jacobs’ Bridget Grady during girls varsity basketball at Burlington Tuesday night.

BURLINGTON – Burlington Central girls basketball coach Collin Kalamatas has noticed another level of play from 6-foot-2 forward Taylor Charles in recent games.

“She’s made some big-time steps in the last few weeks,” Kalamatas said. “She is just a special player. Her impact on the defensive end is one thing, but she’s starting to get things going offensively, too. When the ball is in her hands, she looks sure of herself, and everyone feeds off that.”

The senior continued her run of stellar play Tuesday with a team-high 14 points and 13 rebounds as Burlington rolled past Jacobs, 56-26, in Fox Valley Conference action.

Charles had a hand in four of the Rockets’ final five buckets in the second quarter as Burlington (9-6, 4-1 FVC) extended its lead from 14-6 with 6:15 left to 24-6 with 3:35 left. Charles hauled in a rebound on one end of the court and went coast to coast for a layup, assisted on a 3-pointer from Emily Menke, scored while being fouled and later hit a corner 3.

Her 3-point shooting has been a big point of emphasis this season. She now is shooting better than 40%.

“I worked on it a lot in the offseason so that I can play inside and outside, and it’s been really beneficial,” said Charles, who also had five blocks and four assists. “I’ve just been really trying to attack the basket.

“If I’m open, I’ll shoot the 3, but I’ve been really trying to get inside, get to the foul line and get those types of easy buckets. We just moved the ball really well. We just looked for the open person, and if you’re open, [Kalamatas] gives you the green light to shoot it from anywhere.”

Charles wasn’t the only player having success from long range. Eight players on the Rockets hit a 3, and Burlington finished 11 of 25 (44%) from distance.

Charles, Becca Carani (12 points) and Paige Greenhagel (six points) each made two 3s.

Jacobs coach Jonny Reibel said the Rockets presented the biggest challenge his team has faced so far.

“They’re a team that executes,” Reibel said. “To guard six or seven shooters who can put the ball in the bucket is something we need to work on and make sure we’re in the right spot and we’re not gambling.”

Reibel also lauded the work of Charles.

“She’s one of the best around,” he said. “She has the ability to read the offense, the ability to locate the basketball on defense, and the ability to block at the highest level that you can ask from a high school forward. She’s just so long, she can get rebounds and start the break. We haven’t matched up against anyone like her so far.”

Jacobs (9-8, 3-2) was led by Mackenzie Leahy with 15 points, including 10 after halftime. Ari Corrado tossed in four points, but no other player had more than three points for the Eagles.

Burlington hosts Cary-Grove on Friday and plays at Huntley on Tuesday. The Rockets are the defending FVC champions and have their sights set on repeating.

“We just want to take care of our business on a one-night basis,” Kalamatas said. “We can’t win the conference in January, but we sure can lose it.”

Page Erickson added six points for Burlington. Sam Origel and Rylie DuVal both had five.

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