ELDERSBURG — Century is just excited to be here.
Knights coach George Wunder said if you’re playing in the next round of playoffs, it’s a good thing, and it doesn’t matter who the opponent is on the other end of the court.
The Knights extended their winning streak to four games with a 59-27 rout over Francis Scott Key in a Class 2A West Region 1 semifinal on Tuesday, and they’ll face Carroll County Athletic League foe Liberty for a third time this season in the regional final on Thursday, March 5.
Century hit eight 3-pointers against the Eagles, and three came from junior guard Noah Riley.
Riley led the way with 21 points, three rebounds and a pair of steals. Junior guard Colby Owings scored 11 points and also added three boards. John Pavlick contributed 10 points and five rebounds for the Knights (20-3).
“We were prepared,” Riley said. “We had that whole week and went through the first week not knowing who we would play yet so we played hard in practice and challenged each other for the better. When we found out, we prepared for FSK and came out with a solid game plan and executed well.”
The Knights held the Eagles to just four points in all but the third quarter, a credit to the team’s defense.
They opened the game with a 9-0 scoring run, thanks in part to seven straight points from Riley. FSK sophomore Jaeden Heiser got his team on the board with 1:47 left to play, but the Knights closed out the quarter with a 12-4 lead.
The Knights reeled off 14 straight points to take a 20-point lead with less than three minutes left in the second quarter and entered the break with a 31-8 advantage.
FSK sophomore forward Ryan Rill scored eight straight points of his own in the third quarter and scored 14 of the team’s 15 overall. Still, the Knights continued to roll.
The Knights’ starters were brought out of the game with 4:38 left to play in the fourth with a 55-23 lead.
“I think the guys were itching to get back,” Wunder said. “We can only practice for so long and you get tired of playing against each other so the guys were itching to get back and it showed tonight. You saw a lot of great energy on both ends of the court and I’m really proud of their effort tonight, really proud of those guys.”
The Eagles (7-17) defeated South Carroll last week to advance, and coach Ryan Kimble said the Knights moved the ball and played a solid team defense that made it hard on his team to penetrate.
Rill notched six rebounds and four blocks and senior guard Cameron Brooks added four boards.
“It’s been ups and downs this year,” Kimble said. “We have a young group and we’ve had some good wins and some tough losses but I love their bounce back. It’s a great group of kids, they laugh, they smile and have fun together and I think that’s what I’ll take from the season is what a band they have and a bond they created together.
“I’m going to miss being around the team every day because it was a lot of laughs and a lot of fun and we worked hard to try to do our best.”
Brooks has been a member of the Eagles’ varsity team for two years and Kimble, who stood by Brooks’ side, said he personifies what it means to be a great human being, on and off the floor.
“This program has changed me personally,” Brooks said. “I’ve learned to be a man and be more kind to my teammates. I’ve grown a bond with them, I love them, they’re my brothers and I wouldn’t trade the world for that.”
Added Kimble: “To see him go out like this is tough, but he’s a tough kid and he’s going to do great at Salisbury.”
Francis Scott Key (27): Logan Milstreed 2, Jaeden Heiser 2, Bryce Zepp 2, Ryan Rill 14, Elijah Harris 2, Cameron Brooks 1, AJ Williams 2, Liam McGrath 2.
Century (59): Noah Riley 21, Matt Daniel 5, Colby Owings 11, George Berbakos 4, Spencer Copley 3, Justin Wunder 5, John Pavlick 10.
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Halftime: Century, 31-8.