The second time through the Carroll County Athletic League schedule tends to be more difficult, and that’s what Century and Westminster worked through when the rivals met Friday night.
So when the Owls started building a solid lead midway through the third quarter, and had clawed into their opponent’s defense in the first half, the Knights were left to figure it out if they wanted to keep pace in the CCAL.
Upperclassmen, please stand up.
Matt Huber and Carter Truby, a pair of seniors, combined for 17 second-half points and powered Century to a 58-55 victory that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
The Knights (12-3, 8-1 CCAL) erased an eight-point deficit from that third quarter and took the lead for good after Huber netted five points on two possessions in a row midway through the fourth. Century held on down the stretch, although Westminster had its chances.
Joe Wright came up with a block on Jacob Diehl to give the Owls the ball in the final minute down 57-55. Moments later, guard Denio Blaney got into the paint in the waning seconds and created some space to put up a running jump shot from about 12 feet away.
The ball rattled in and out of the rim, and Century snagged the rebound. Justin Wunder made one of two free throws with 5 seconds to play, giving the Knights a three-point lead.
Westminster went to senior Christian Etchison — the Owls’ all-county quarterback — to start the inbounds play under its own hoop, but his long pass was intercepted by Jared Lamb around mid-court and Century escaped.
Huber finished with 21 points, and Truby scored 10 of his 16 in the third quarter. Century beat Westminster in a second straight close contest this season — the Knights prevailed 55-46 in overtime back on Dec. 19.
“We just stuck to our plan,” said Truby, who sank a pair of 3-pointers in the third. “I trust my guys, so we kept rolling with the game, went with the flow, and it worked out in our favor.”
Huber added nine rebounds and four assists, and scored 14 points in the first half. But Westminster (10-5, 6-2) went inside with Wright for success.
Wright collected 19 of his game-high 25 points in the opening half by getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Wright also stepped out and sank a 3-pointer, and later converted a traditional three-point play to help the Owls.
Westminster led 45-37 with 3:32 remaining in the third before going cold on offense. The Owls missed five of their next six shots, but a 3-pointer from senior guard Drue Giles helped the home team stay on top 48-47 going into the fourth quarter.
Westminster didn’t connect on another field goal, though, until 3 minutes remained. And just before that, Diehl swished a 3 from the top of the arc to give Century a 57-52 lead.
Giles grabbed a steal with about 2 minutes to go, with Westminster down 57-54, and had a chance at the other end with a runner in the lane. The shot didn’t fall, but Etchison came up with the rebound and drew a foul.
He made the first free throw and missed the second, but the Owls regained possession. They didn’t score again, however, and Century held on.
Giles finished with 13 points and fellow guard Terrence McDonald scored eight. Lamb had four rebounds and four assists for Century coach George Wunder.
“Wunder was preaching composure for us, because they’re a great team and they like to speed us up to get turnovers,” Huber said. “So our mindset was to stay composed and ease into everything. And it helped us down the stretch with the win.”
Century visits South Carroll on Tuesday before two non-county games. Then it’s a home tilt Feb. 8 with unbeaten Liberty — the Lions won 79-78 in OT on Jan. 11.
Wunder said wins like Friday’s should go a long way in helping his squad.