Burling outshines Bull with 22 points in clash of stars

Jessa Burling slithers between two Grove defenders Tuesday night. Burling finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a huge win. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

Union Grove girls basketball coach Rob Domagalski stood silently with his arms folded in disgust in the final moments of his team’s lackluster performance at Burlington.

The Demons out-rebounded, out-hustled and out-played the Broncos in all aspects, and posted an impressive 51-45 victory Tuesday night in a crucial Southern Lakes Conference game.

Jessa Burling led the way with a game-high 22 points, including 12 in the second half to help Burlington (12-6, 8-2) move to within one game of first-place Wilmot (9-1).

Burlington improved to 4-0 at home this season in SLC play.

Bronco senior Brooklyn Bull had a team-high 20 points for Union Grove, which fell a half game out of first place after dropping its first conference game of the season. The Broncos can reclaim first place with a victory at Wilmot Friday night.

Winning at Wilmot seems a lot more daunting after a disappointing effort against the Demons.

“We aren’t playing as a team right now,” Domagalski said. “Our players have to be better teammates, and if you aren’t a good teammate, you aren’t going to win many games, so it is what it is.”

Burlington’s Amelia Crabtree soars to challenge Union Grove freshman Angela Slattery Tuesday night. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Conversely, the Demons played brilliant team basketball against the Broncos’ menacing 1-3-1 defense.

“This was a very big win for us,” Burling said. “We knew they would come out with the 1-3-1 and we struggled against it earlier this year so we practiced more against it and learned how to beat it and how to interact with one another.”

Burling was the Demons’ offensive lynch pin, dissecting the zone defense early in the game with 10 points to ignite a 12-2 run. That made it 17-15 Burlington.

Bull later responded with a trio of three-pointers, including a bank shot that gave the Broncos a 26-21 lead late in the first half.

The Demons then scored the final three points of the half and went into halftime with momentum down just two points, 26-24.

“We wanted to put our best ball handlers at the top trying to catch the ball going to the basket and not having our backs to the basket so they could create from there,” Burlington coach Mary Parker said. “We handled their defense much better this time.”


Demons take over late

Burlington continued to pour it on in the second half, outscoring Union Grove 8-2, en route to a 32-28 lead.

The Demons maintained their small advantage for the rest of the game, thanks to a mixture of zone and man-to-man defenses.

“Defensively we knew they had a lot of outside shooters, and you obviously have to respect and stop Bull because she can create so many different ways,” Parker said. “We rotated between zone and man defenses to try to keep them off-balance as best we could.”

Bull, who only had seven points in the second half, finally found an opening on the perimeter and buried a three-pointer to cut it to 36-35 with 6:30 left.

The Demons then answered back with six straight points to open a 42-35 with 4:30 left.

Brooklyn Bull scored 20 points Tuesday and is on the verge of becoming the all-time leading scorer in Union Grove history. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

“We had a philosophy and game plan to do some things that we didn’t do and allowed them drive gaps and allowed shooters to shoot,” Domagalski said. “That’s what’s frustrating is to watch film and practice for them and do it well, and then come in the game and do something differently.”

The Broncos got as close as three, 48-45, on freshman Angela Slattery’s three-point bank shot with 50 seconds left.

But Burlington once again had an answer and closed out the game with the clutch victory.

“Our coach always says to enjoy the win afterwards, but then you have to move on,” Burling said. “It doesn’t mean anything if you win one game and then lose the next three, so we have to keep the momentum and keep winning.”

Union Grove finished with 31 assists, led by Kus’ seven.

Union Grove’s Taylor Clark goes in for a shot Tuesday. (Rick Benavides/SLN)