To the participants of Friday’s Burlington Central at Dundee-Crown game, the Rockets’ 28-game winning streak was not of utmost concern.
Central coach Brett Porto and his team needed to build on another win. D-C coach Lance Huber wanted to get his team off a three-game skid.
D-C came through with a strong performance – sparked by guard Zach Randl’s five 3-pointers and strong inside play from 6-foot-6 Tyler DiSilvio – for a 58-52 victory. It ended a remarkable string for the Rockets, who are 40-7 in their three-plus years in the FVC, despite being the smallest school (1,209). Prairie Ridge (1,338) is next-smallest.
The Rockets graduated four starters, including 2022 Northwest Herald Player of the Year Gavin Sarvis, from last year’s team. Nick Carpenter, Zac Schmidt and Carson Seyller also graduated from Central’s 31-4 team. That group started, or was in the playing rotation, for three seasons.
“We just try to win the next game, and I’ve had a lot of good players and a lot of good teams,” Porto said. “For however long we’re in the conference I hope we’re a pain in everyone’s [rear]. Just like they want to beat us. We’ve had a nice little run and hopefully that run doesn’t end as long as I’m here.”
The Rockets’ streak may be the longest in FVC history. Jacobs had a 26-game winning streak stopped in December of 2018.
Central got in a hole thanks to Randl’s hot 3-point shooting and nearly dug its way out. But when the Rockets came back to cut the lead to 41-38 early in the fourth quarter, D-C answered.
“We just needed it,” Huber said after the win. “We needed one. Zach and Tyler were amazing tonight.”
Randl was more worried about the Chargers’ skid than Central’s winning streak.
“It’s huge to come out after losing three straight and get a win,” he said. “It feels great.”
Central’s 6-9 forward Drew Scharnowski, who will play at NCAA Division I Belmont, is the lone holdover starter for the Rockets.
“It’s been really impressive coming in as a new team (to the FVC) and getting all those wins,” Scharnowski said. “Now it’s over. We just have to bounce back.”
Good balance: If the first two Fox Valley Conference games are any indication, the league could have more parity than it has had in some time.
Central dominated the last two seasons, with Cary-Grove winning by one game over Huntley in 2020. They were both well ahead of the rest of the league.
The 2019 season had a tie with Crystal Lake Central and Crystal Lake South at 12-4, and Cary-Grove a game back at 11-5. But before that, Jacobs won back-to-back titles.
Crystal Lake South (6-1, 2-0 FVC) and Huntley (5-2, 2-0) are the only unbeatens remaining in the FVC after two games. Burlington Central, D-C, Hampshire, McHenry and Prairie Ridge are all 1-1.
Red-hot Raiders: Huntley graduated three of its top players from last season, but is still off to a strong start. Guard Aiden Wieczorek was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team pick, forward Adam Guazzo set the school season rebounding record and guard Ben Ahmer set the season 3-point record.
But the Red Raiders look like a team with good balance and several adept shooters. In last week’s 69-53 win at Prairie Ridge, they hit 15 3s, with six players all hitting from behind the arc in the first half.
Huntley got forward Noah Only, who was its lone returning starter, back from an ankle injury Friday. Only scored 16 in Huntley’s 49-35 win at Jacobs.
“It’s really big to get him back,” Raiders coach Will Benson said. “But, we did a nice job of building some depth while he was out.
“We’re very balanced and that helps. We all trust each other and share the ball. When we do that, we’re hard to guard.”
Big addition: Kuba Senczyszyn, a 6-8 forward, transferred back to D-C this year after a year at a school in Chicago. Senczyszyn scored eight points, with two dunks, and grabbed 12 rebounds in Friday’s win over Burlington Central.
“He gives us a presence,” Huber said. “He does some good things, we have to work with him on some things.”
On the Marko: McHenry junior guard Marko Visnjevac averaged 7.9 points a game and hit 42 3s as a sophomore and is off to a hot start for the Warriors.
Visnjevac is averaging 18 points a game with 16 3s as McHenry is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the FVC.
“I knew over the summer I had to have a big junior year,” Visnjevac said. “That’s all I cared about in the summer.”
Visnjevac hit the game-winning 3 in a 58-55 victory over McHenry on Sunday, Nov. 28 at the Milwaukee Bucks’ Fiserv Forum. His final of six 3s came with 35 seconds remaining.
“We talked about getting to the blue line, not the green (NBA) line out there,” Warriors coach Chris Madson said. “I saw Marko on that blue line. He’s a lights-out shooter.”