With four minutes, 12 seconds remaining and Centennial boys basketball clinging to a four-point advantage, the Eagles implemented a strategy they found success with throughout the second half on Wednesday night.
Once they swung the ball to the right wing, 6-foot-6 senior Hayden Ford curled around from the elbow to the block, posted up and called for possession. Behind him stood Marriotts Ridge forward Cole Brown, who was playing with four fouls and did not want to foul out.
So, when Ford received the ball and turned towards the basket, Brown tried to keep his arms straight up to avoid contact. He couldn’t, and Ford laid in the basket as the referee blew his whistle.
The sequence epitomized how Centennial, which secured a 57-48 win, was able to pull away from the visiting Mustangs in the fourth quarter. With Brown and his brother, sophomore center Cam Brown, dealing with heavy second-half foul trouble, the Eagles (4-3 county, 6-5 overall) executed against a weakened Mustangs frontcourt to pick up their third straight county win.
“We did a good job tonight taking care of our size advantage,” coach Chad Hollwedel said. “Something we’ve been trying to do is recognize what we have, and tonight we did a really good job on the fly recognizing we got some of their size in foul trouble and it went a long way for us.”
The Eagles frequented Ford (eight points, seven rebounds) after intermission, but they also attacked the Mustangs’ big men with their guards. Seniors Corey Eudell (team-high 12 points) and Shawn Hill (nine points) and junior Cameron Berkeley (six points) all drove to the hoop and attempted to create contact at the rim. On misses, they fought for offensive rebounds that resulted in dozens of second chance opportunities.
The Mustangs (1-5, 5-7) couldn’t match that inside production, and perimeter scoring — juniors Brandon Held and Ryan Lee combined for 27 points — dwindled down the stretch as the Eagles increased their defensive intensity.
“We see most importantly that our energy from the bench and on the floor has had a great advantage for us to keep everybody on the floor in the game,” Ford said. “Even on the substitution transitions, we try to get everybody in and just keep the energy high.”
But it took Centennial more than a quarter to find any sort of enthusiasm. Similar to Tuesday’s win over Atholton, the Eagles started the game sloppy. They committed six turnovers and seven fouls in a four-point first quarter and were lucky to be down just four points after the opening period.
Had Marriotts Ridge knocked down a few free throws, it could have built a double-digit advantage.
Instead, the Eagles switched to a zone defense in the second quarter and forced giveaways on several consecutive Mustangs possessions to gain the lead, prompting coach Tim Brady to use a full timeout. At that point, with his team already dealing with foul trouble, Brady knew the Mustangs wasted their best opportunity to take firm control of the contest.
“We had to change lineups with guys that aren’t necessarily always used to being together,” Brady said. “It was a good call for Chad to switch it up on us, and our guys kind of got caught in it.”
While Held, Lee and senior guard Luke Ingersoll would keep Marriotts Ridge in the game through three periods, eventually its widespread foul trouble proved too much to overcome. The Eagles grabbed offensive boards and finished put backs. Defensively, they made a string of stops that led to easy points on the other end.
Soon after junior Ryan Hollwedel finished yet another transition layup with 3:28 to play, Brady called a timeout to prevent the Mustangs from falling behind by double digits. On the other sideline, Hollwedel rejoiced by throwing his hands in the air to pump up the home crowd behind him.
Despite a slow start, his group was on its way to pulling out another league victory.
“We keep switching it up, and it just seems like it’s just the way it is right now,” Hollwedel said. “As we get going, we do a better job than starting.”
“I’ll take it if the final score is us plus-one,” he made sure to add, “but we need to do a better job starting for sure.”
Centennial (4-3 county, 6-5 overall) — 57, Marriotts Ridge (1-5, 5-7) — 48
C — Eudell 12, Hill 9, Ford 8, Smith 8, Berkeley 6, Hohmann 5, Hollwdel 4, Merkey 3, Williams 2.
MR — Held 16, Lee 11, Ingersoll 5, Little 5, Cole Brown 4, Snell 3, Stepke 3, Ross 1.
Half: 22-20, MR
Around Howard County:
River Hill (6-0, 11-1) — 72, Long Reach (3-4, 5-7) — 54
For the second time in as many nights, River Hill had a player score his career high.
Tuesday night it was seniors Jaden Martin (28 points) and Brendan McKenna (15 points), both of whom led the Hawks to blowout win over Winters Mill. Against Long Reach, senior Josh Mann stepped in for senior starting guard Luke Champion (illness) and drilled five 3-pointers as part of a carer-high 20-point effort.
Martin and seniors Dylan Daniels and Jacob Krause also scored in double figures.
RH — Mann 20, Martin 20, Daniels 15, Krause 11, McKenna 4, Hirsch 2.
LR — Davis 12, Young 9, Jones 8, Olivis Jr. 7, Shupe 5, Dix 5, Thompson 4, Cooper 2.
Half: 38-20, RH
Oakland Mills (4-2, 7-3) — 67, Howard (1-5, 2-9) — 40
A lopsided second half helped Oakland Mills secure a convincing road win against Howard on Wednesday night.
Up, 20-18, at the break, the Scorpions outscored the Lions, 25-9, in the third period to blow the game open. Junior Daeshawn Eaton led all scorers with 20 points.
OM — Eaton 20, Burgess 14, Simpson 9, Fairbanks 6, Gaymon 6, Hairston 4, Chance 2, Eiland II 2, Greggs 2, McFadden 2.
Ho — Blanco 15, Dawkins 7, Wilson 4, Kim 3, Taylor 3, Agbai 2, Satche 2, Wambura 2, Williams 2.
Half: 20-18, OM
Atholton (4-3, 5-7) — 54, Glenelg (3-3, 4-6) — 45
A night after scoring 45 points in a road loss to Centennial, the Atholton limited Glenelg to that point total en route to halting its two-game losing streak.
Holding onto a four-point lead, the Raiders limited the typically high-scoring Gladiators to 10 points in the fourth quarter. They received 17 points from Justin Oates and 13 more from Maxwell Murray, who made significant contributions after being held scoreles for the first time all season against the Eagles on Tuesday night.
A — Oates 17, Murray 13, Parkins 9, Robinson 5, Mitchell 4, Carey 3, Marsh 2, Agbor-Baiyee 1.
G — Davis 10, Piwowarski 10, Mills 9, Boswell 7, Taylor 7, Soltis 2.
Half: 25-22, A
Wilde Lake (2-4, 2-8) — 58, Mt. Hebron (2-5, 4-8) — 28
Wilde Lake picked up its first win since Dec. 13 on Wednesday night, coach Deon Wingfield’s team did so in commanding fashion.
Thirteen players scored for the Wildecats, including a game-high 18 points from junior guard Trea Keys, and the defense shut down a Mt. Hebron squad that put up 45 points in the second half alone in Tuesday night’s win over Long Reach.
WL — Keys 18, Joseph 7, Marshall 5, Zimmerman 5, Greene 4, Hunter 4, Van Tassel 4, Ali 2, Kamara 2, Williams 2, Woods 2, Wright 2, Chamblee 1.
MH — Nazaire 6, Ryan Kinloch 5, Crump 4, Bates 2, Coleman 2, Ichrist 2, Lawson 2, Josh Kinloch 2, Prox 2, Cargiulo 1.
Half: 30-10, WL
Chapelgate (2-3 MIAA B Conference, 11-6 overall) — 69, Friends — 54
Behind 20-plus-point performances from junior Odell Dickerson and senior Blake Hatcher, Chapelgate cruised to its eighth straight win. The Yellowjackets haven’t lost since suffering a six-point defeat against Richard Montgomery on Dec. 14.
Dickerson, who’s averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game this season, continued to shoulder the scoring load by turning in his fourth game with 20 or more points. Hatcher, meanwhile, matched his season high scoring total. He’s averaging 11.5 points per contest this season.
CH – Dickerson 22, Hatcher 21, Heard 10, Morant 5, Wise 4, Wesley 4, Levi 3.
Half: 35-21, CH
Reach Kyle Stackpole at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @kylefstackpole