In a first half of the season filled with ups and downs, Centennial took a big step in the right direction on Friday night against Glenelg.
The Eagles built a double-digit lead early in the second half and then held on down the stretch for a 44-42 victory, moving the team above .500 in county play and handing the Gladiators just their second loss of the season.
“This was definitely a big week for us, especially after two losses last week where we felt like we had to really address some things on the defensive end. But we had some really good practices and then the game against Marriotts Ridge gave us a lot of confidence coming into tonight,” said Centennial coach Rob Slopek, whose team was coming off a 30-point win over the Mustangs on Wednesday. “Tonight, I thought we executed our game plan as perfectly as we could. Jess Foster is a great ball player for them, and she got her points, but we made her work and Ashley [Molz] did an incredible job of staying tight with her.
“Glenelg made their run, like we knew they would, but we made the plays to pull it out at the end.”
Foster ended up scoring a game-high 23 points in the loss for Glenelg (5-2, 9-2), battling through picking up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter. Her efforts, along with some inspired play down the stretch by Kellie Johnson (12 points), helped the Gladiators come all the way back to have a shot to tie the game on the final possession.
But Molz, who finished with 10 points of her own, forced a tough, contested shot by Foster just before the buzzer and Centennial (4-3, 7-5) was able to hold on for the victory.
Brittany Anderson (17 points), Molz and Rasa Welsh (11 points) all finished in double digits scoring for the Eagles.
“This means a lot to us, we worked really hard to win this,” Molz said. “We’re just really fired up and ready to keep going.”
On the other side, a lethargic first half and beginning of the second ultimately cost Glenelg. But coach Chris Beil said he was happy to see his team not give up, especially with Foster on the bench for six minutes in the middle of the second half.
“I’m very pleased with our fight, we never backed down and we gave ourselves a chance at the very end. It was just a tale of two halves, unfortunately, and it took us a little too long to adjust,”Beil said. “But our bench enthusiasm was great, picking everyone up, and Kellie Johnson did a great job proving that she can take over a game when she has to. Credit to Centennial, though, for stepping up and taking it at the end.”
Early on, it was the sharp shooting from Anderson that helped Centennial grab the lead. The sophomore guard hit four 3-point shots in the first 11 minutes to help stake the Eagles to a 19-14 advantage. By halftime, the Centennial lead was up to six points, 25-19.
Then in the third quarter, following a three-point play from Anderson, Centennial had opened up its largest lead of the game at 36-24.
That, however, is when Johnson took things over. She scored six straight points to close the third quarter and trim the deficit to six. Later, following another lay-up by Johnson with 1:45 left in regulation, Glenelg was all the way back within two points.
But Centennial dug in and answered. Perhaps the biggest shot of the night came with just over a minute left and the shot clock winding down, as Jordan Dossett drilled a 3-point shot from the right corner to put the Eagles back up six.
“The biggest thing we talked about, which is something we learned from our game against C.M. Wright … is that we didn’t want to play like we were afraid to lose. We couldn’t be afraid to take shots and you saw Jordan Dossett confidently step up and hit a big three there in the corner,” Slopek said. “We stayed aggressive and I thought that ended up being the difference.:”
Glenelg did respond to get itself into a spot to tie or win the game on the final possession, but ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback.
Centennial 44, Glenelg 42
C (4-3, 7-5): Anderson 17, Welsh 11, Molz 10, Dossett 6.
G (5-2, 9-2): Foster 23, Johnson 12, Anderson 4, Gillespie 2, Coburn 1.
Half: 25-19 C.
Atholton 55, Oakland Mills 46
The Raiders snapped a six-game losing skid, outscoring the Scorpions 17-8 in the fourth quarter to break open what was a tie game.
Sarah Sowah scored 12 points to lead Atholton, while Kayla Beckwith returned after a two-game absence to score 11 points. Jazmine Washington scored a game-high 16 points in the loss for Oakland Mills.
A (2-5, 4-8): Sowah 12, Beckwith 11, Cannon 9, Simons 8, Ruley 6, Hargrett 5, Kelley 2, Blair 2.
OM (5-2, 8-4): Washington 16, Grenway 14, Riggs 8, Eldridge 4, Miranda 2, Lightfoot 2.
Half: 27-26 A.
Howard 63, River Hill 26
The Lions won for the third straight game by at least 25 points, getting a game-high 24 points from Madison Burris. Howard led 38-10 at the half and never looked back.
Ho (6-1, 11-1): Burris 24, Furr 9, Jones 9, Addison 6, Sanchez-Henry 6, Durkee 3, Malagar 3, Eich 3.
RH (2-5, 8-5): King 11, Clark 9, E. Jackson 6.
Half: 38-10 Ho.
Reservoir 52, Wilde Lake 17
The Gators won for the fourth straight time, getting double-double performances from both Emily Dorn (13 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Nia Powell (10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) in just three quarters of action.
Re (4-3, 5-6): Dorn 13, Powell 10, Abunassar 8, Moore 6, Clark 6, Hooker 5, Bailey 2, Moultrie 2.
WL (0-7, 1-10): Corkeron 10, Perry 4, Killian 2, Cariati 1.
Half: 34-6 Re.
Marriotts Ridge 66, Mt. Hebron 59
The Mustangs snapped a four-game losing skid, scoring 21 points in the final eight minutes — including 10 points from Acadia Noll — to pull out the victory over the Vikings.
Mallory Conroy (16 points), Noll (13) and Emma Morath (10) all finished in double figures scoring.
MR (3-4, 7-6): Conroy 16, Noll 13, E. Morath 10, Bergquist 9, H. Morath 8, Kohler 5, Bryan 2, Cooke 2, Levey 1.
MH (2-6, 6-7): Chase 20, Valentine 12, Williams 9, Oliver 8, Rodriguez 6, Milano 4.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports