ELDERSBURG — Century’s hopes of playing for a second regional title in three seasons were cut short Wednesday.
The Knights hosted Oakdale in a Class 2A West Section 1 final, but Bears senior Collin Schlee paced the visiting squad with 28 points to help the Frederick County squad defeat the Knights 69-53.
“I was proud of our kids, they didn’t quit,” Knights coach George Wunder said. “They got down maybe by eight or 10 in the third quarter and we got it back down to three, maybe, and I was really proud of our resilience. The kids dug in and fought hard to get back in, but it just wasn’t mean to be tonight.”
It was a low-scoring first half between Century and Oakdale, and each team never led by more than four points.
Jared Lamb blocked one of Oakdale’s shots and sent it over to senior Carter Truby, who hit a 3-pointer to give the Knights an 8-4 lead. The Bears outscored the Knights 9-2 in the final three minutes to carry a 13-12 lead into the second quarter.
The Bears missed three shots in a row before Mussa Crawford’s layup put the Bears up 19-16. A 3 from Jake Diehl gave the Knights a 22-21 edge — it marked the last time the Knights led through the remainder of the game.
Oakdale closed out the half on a 5-0 scoring run and used a 6-0 run early in the third to build a 32-25 lead over Century (20-4).
Diehl’s layup trimmed the Bears’ run, but they scored the next six points to extend their lead to 38-27. Senior Matt Huber and junior Justin Wunder each hit 3s for the Knights to come within five. Schlee notched a steal and carried the ball down to take a dunk attempt, but the ball was tipped by 22 and the Knights’ crowd went wild with excitement. Crawford’s steal-turned-layup extended the Bears’ lead 44-37 at the end of the third frame.
Truby sank a 3 to kickstart the fourth and both teams traded shots back and forth. A 3 from Jack McGaha sparked a 9-0 scoring run for the Bears until another 3 from Wunder cut the run short.
Schlee, who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, scored the final six points for the Bears — a layup and four free throws — to keep the Bears on top.
Century trailed 67-50 with one minute remaining when George Wunder pulled his starters from the game. Huber, visibly emotional, wiped his eyes with his jersey as he took a seat on the sideline next to his teammates to watch the final minute play out.
Huber, who scored 13 points for the Knights, said he will miss the relationships he built with his teammates and the coaching staff the most.
“They drive us to get better and the player connections, we’re all best friends now,” he said. “We’re a family.”
Huber and Truby agreed Oakdale forced costly turnovers, and the Bears were more athletic down the stretch.
“I think we were aggressive and I think we did well with that,” Truby said. “We weren’t backing down from them but at the same time we let them rush us and their press got to us a little bit.”
Oakdale (69): Tommy Kelly 9, Collin Schlee 28, Mussa Crawford 6, Jack McGaha 13, Ethan Reifer 9, Cameron Dorner 4.
Century (53): Jake Diehl 10, Matt Huber 13, Matt Daniel 3, Jared Lamb 4, Justin Wunder 9, Carter Truby 14.
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Halftime: Oakdale, 26-22.