Centennial forward Brittany Anderson stepped to the foul line with less than 30 seconds remaining to give her team a two-possession lead at defending county champion River Hill Thursday night.
After her first attempt just missed, the senior looked to her bench to find her teammates roaring with encouragement.
Turning back to the line, Anderson connected on her second chance. Centennial (3-0, 3-1) would hold on for the 35-30 victory, handing the Hawks their third county loss of the season.
“When I missed the first one, I didn’t let it get in my head,” she said. “That was a big game because we haven’t gotten a win against them in a while. We said from the beginning that we wanted this.”
Anderson’s 14 points did not come easy, as the Eagles were often forced to come from behind. It wasn’t until inside the three-minute mark that they were able to finally claim enough momentum to go ahead.
Jenna Collins and her eight points and 12 rebounds proved to be one of the only bright spots for the Hawks, who have already lost two more county games than they did all last winter. Coach Teresa Waters maintained that her team needs to keep grinding.
“We just have to get over the hump,” she said. “We have to find our niche and get a little more composed. We just have a lot of mental lapses.”
Early in the first quarter, River Hill looked to expose Centennial’s weaknesses, including applying a press that the Eagles never seemed to fully figure out. After the first eight minutes of play, the Hawks had what looked to be a commanding seven-point advantage.
“I just think we came out and we didn’t play our brand of basketball,” said Eagles coach Bobby Macheel of his team’s “sloppy” play early on. “Our first two games, we played confident and with some intensity, but in the first half (tonight) we didn’t.”
Late in the second quarter, Centennial’s offense caught life, and even with starting forward Anna Mitchell in early foul trouble, the Eagles were able to stay afloat.
“It was tough,” Macheel said of having to sit Mitchell. “But, it was good playing without her for a little bit to figure ourselves out, because we are going to have times where we will need other players step up.”
Heading into halftime down 18-15, the Eagles knew they had a shot. The third quarter was a defensive struggle, with both teams hardly taking advantage of the other’s mistakes. As the fourth quarter loomed, River Hill’s lead had shrunk to just two points.
With under five minutes to play, Anderson, who hadn’t made a shot from beyond the arc all night, connected on a 3-pointer to put her team ahead. Then, Sara Downing converted on a 3-point play attempt to solidify her team’s lead. The senior guard had 10 points in the win.
Macheel said he was proud of the way his team fought, saying that any win against the Hawks is always special.
“Great respect to them. It feels good to beat a great program like River Hill,” he added.
Centennial will welcome Mt. Hebron Friday, and Macheel said his team must improve if they want to claim their third consecutive victory of the week.
The Hawks won’t have long to made adjustments, as they will travel to Reservoir Friday for what will be another difficult test.
“Unlike most of these other teams who are veteran-heavy, we’re not,” Waters said. “We just have to find that support from other players. We saw it in spurts tonight, but not consistently.”
Centennial 35, River Hill 30.
RH: Jenna Collins 8, Chelsea Buchiane 4, Sydney Poindexter, 3, Jess Hopkins 6, Julia Collins 1, Annie Clark 2, Katie Caddigan 2, Halley Seybold 4.