By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun
6:59 PM EST, December 27, 2011
After losing close games to two ranked opponents already this season, the Ben Franklin-Masonville boys basketball team followed a difficult path to get over the hump in its third chance Tuesday.
The Bayhawks rallied from an 18-point deficit and got a free throw from Parrish Wragg with no time left on the clock to come away with an improbable 57-56 win over No. 10 Centennial at the IAABO Board 290 Memorial Mixer at Northwestern.
Leon Fleming scored 21 points and Antoine Montgomery added 16 to help set up Wragg's game-ending heroics. Ben Franklin (4-3) also got a standout defensive performance from Jesse Barr and strong work on the boards from Da'Quelle Hodge.
When Montgomery hit a three pointer from the left side with 2:34 to play, the Bayhawks — who had yet to lead — pulled even with the Eagles at 56. The score stayed that way until Wragg stole a pass with less than three seconds to play and drove to the basket, drawing a foul at the buzzer. After missing the first free throw, his second try hit the front rim and fell in to give Ben Franklin the gut-check win.
"This was a character win and we needed it," said Ben Franklin coach William Russell, whose team lost in overtime to No. 7 City and by three points to No. 8 Forest Park previously. "This was our third ranked opponent, and we just refused to lose. We didn't care what the scoreboard said — we just kept fighting."
It was the first loss for Centennial (6-1), which got a game-high 24 points from guard Keonte Potts.
Potts dominated the first half, scoring 15 points to help the Eagles build their biggest lead at 33-15 with 3:30 left in the second quarter. After leading 38-26 at the half, the Eagles opened the third quarter by getting five straight points from Omari Ringgold to appear in control at 43-26.
But the Bayhawks chipped away at the deficit, putting Barr on Potts while playing a box-and-one on defense and also taking over the offensive boards to get second and third chances. When Fleming hit a jumper with 49 seconds left in the third quarter, the Eagles' lead was cut to 47-41.
After Potts scored the Eagles' first seven points of the fourth quarter to build a 54-41 lead with 5:37 to play, the Bayhawks limited the Eagles to just one more basket while going on a 16-2 run. Montgomery scored seven of the points in that pivotal stretch.
Wragg, who missed the front end of a one-and-one with 58 seconds left and then missed his first free throw with time expired, stayed confident throughout.
"We knew we could come back because that's how good of a team we are," he said. "It's basically trust the whole way through."
After coming away with six Howad County wins to open the season, Centennial will look to bounce back when it plays Edmondson in Wednesday's second day of the IAABO tournament.
"When it hit the fan, we need to do a better job of being poised and taking care of the basketball," Eagles coach Chad Hollwedel said. "We were not strong with the ball, letting kids physically take I from us. But it's the first time we've really seen this tempo all year, so with that said we'll come out tomorrow and be ready."
IAABO Memorial Mixer
Ben Franklin 57, No. 9 Centennial 56
BF – Fleming 21, Montgomery 16, Wragg 9, Barr 3, Hodge 4, Graves 2, Thompson 2. Totals: 20 9-14 57.
C – Potts 24, Peterson 2, Ringgold 13, Goldsmith 5, Klima 2, Adams 3, Tinuoye 3, Eads2, Benson 2. 21 12-16 56.
Half: C, 38-26
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