Burris had just enough in the tank on Friday night to earn a 56-46 Mid-Eastern Conference victory on the road against Cowan.
Burris, which battled a bad case of the flu bug as a team, used a strong second quarter and tough defense to pull out the win.
“We’ve had three kids out parts of this week,” Burris Coach Greg Hitchens said. “So, we have basically had about two good hours of practice as a team leading up to tonight. I am proud of our guys … the way they came out and responded. They showed their toughness.”
Cowan started off quick and built a 14-6 first-quarter lead, but the Owls responded by forcing five Blackhawk turnovers and getting the ball in the hands of Mack Rathbun.
“I am not sure why we start so slow,” Hitchens said. “Here we are 10 games into the season and it is still something we are trying to correct. The games we have lost have been when we have gotten too far behind or waited too long to get going. Tonight, we were able to get it going quickly.”
Rathbun, one of the Owls who struggled with sickness during the week, led Burris with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-3 forward did it the efficient way by connecting of 6 of 8 from the field and 6 of 8 from the line.
“Mack practiced about an hour this week,” Hitchens said. “So for him to come out here and do what he did is just a testament to his toughness.”
The Owls weren’t efficient as a group, connecting on just 13 of 32 shots and turning the ball over 18 times. The Owls’ defense was up to the task of stopping Cowan as they forced the Blackhawks into 18 turnovers and 16 of 46 shooting from the floor.
“I think it was definitely a combination of their defense and our impatience,” Cowan Coach Mike King said. “They are a team with some good athletes that like to get out and run. But we can typically do that, too. We have to be, like all teams, able to make good decisions with the ball and not make so many mental mistakes.”
The Owls’ defense was also able to limit the effectiveness of Cowan’s leading scorer, Stewart Kerr, who had 15 points, but was limited in his looks during the game.
“When you have a player with the ability of Stew,” King said, “teams are going to focus on stopping him. Burris had a good game plan for him. But on the other hand, seeing that he was still able to put up the numbers he got, with all the attention that they paid him, speaks volumes about his ability.”
Editor’s note: Due to technical issues, this article did not appear in Saturday’s editions.