To ask L.J. Kerr If his power is getting to the basket for Burlington Central, the junior guard will quickly ignite a statistic that shows that to be the case.
Kerr pointed out that he made one three-pointer this season without missing a shot.
“I’m a big driver,” he said. “I love going to the free throw line.”
Showing this strength on Friday night, Kerr scored 11 points with five layups and a free throw in the fourth quarter, and the Rockets won the Fox Valley Conference 59-44 against Jacobs.
The Rockets closed the game ahead 43-40 with a 10-0 run. Kerr scored seven of those points, and they all came from the lane with a series of creative moves around the basket.
“I just find a way to get to the rim,” Kerr said. “I love euro step and spin movements. That’s my main point. I like to be strong, get to the basket and not shy away from contact.
“That’s what I’ve been working on and it’s working pretty well.”
Kerr did all this damage while playing with four fouls, which kept him out for the rest of the game. But when he reached the fourth, he put the Rockets on his back.
“He’s playing really well,” Burlington Central coach said Bret Porto Kerr mentioned. “The way he played in the fourth quarter, the same way he’s been playing in the last games. He’s very valuable, he just plays as a pure playmaker.
“When he sees the lane to attack, he attacks and puts us in our sets.”
Kerr said he was aware he had to sit out for a long time Friday night. He was looking to put the game away for the Rockets in the fourth round.
“It was tough to commit four fouls,” Kerr said. “I never committed four fouls in the third quarter. It was hard, but I wanted to find a way to win.
“I didn’t want to let my teammates down because I really let them down with fouls in the first half.”
The Rockets are 6-1 in their last seven games, with their only loss coming to Huntley in triple overtime. Porto said it was no coincidence that Kerr’s improved play coincided with this winning streak.
“His development was almost at the same level as our team this year,” Porto said. said. “We were just trying to keep him involved mentally because he was sitting in different sections for so long.
“To see him come in and react like that is a big growth point for a young point guard. It was tough for us to keep him on the bench.”
Jacobs answered most of Burlington Central’s hot possessions in the first three quarters, keeping the game at arm’s length. This changed when Kerr took over in the fourth round.
“He’s a big, strong, tough kid,” Jacobs’ assistant coach said. Tim Moran Kerr mentioned. “He’s always been a liability to guard because he looks like a competitor and he’s a super tough kid who does a really good job for them.”
Kerr said he likes being in the middle of a streak in the fourth quarter.
“I live for those moments,” Kerr said. “It’s an adrenaline rush. I love this. I love being with my teammates, having fun, competing and winning. We found a way.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.