Westminster pressured Century tirelessly on defense in a back-and-forth Carroll County Athletic League clash Wednesday evening.
The Owls used a strong fourth-quarter rally to erase a six-point deficit and defeat the Knights 52-46, good for a fourth straight win this winter.
Guards Chandler Gentzel and Erick Stranko scored 11 points apiece for the Owls (8-2, 3-0 CCAL). Stranko and senior forward Nico Graham each notched six rebounds and senior guard Tyler Buberl had eight boards.
“That was a great team effort,” Stranko said. “Everyone was in the game, the players all came up and they played really well. The bench was all in the game, our fans were also in the game giving us a boost. Century is a really good team, they played really hard with us but we found a way to pull it out.”
The Knights (7-2, 3-1) shot just 5-for-31 from behind the 3-point line. Senior guard Justin Wunder sank a pair of 3s with 1:22 left to play in the third quarter and junior guard Noah Riley stacked another on top of that to help the Knights grab a 41-35 lead to close out the frame.
“I think they shot a lot of 3s, but they shot a low percentage,” Owls coach Brett Kanther said. “A lot of that had to do with the fact that they were uncomfortable when they were shooting and these kids executed the game plan.
“We had a hand in their face and it wasn’t like they had space and time, we took time and space away from them and that’s a credit to the kids executing the game plan.”
Westminster opened up a 10-2 lead over Century through the first four minutes of the game with the help of a pair of 3s from Gentzel, who is now 14 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
The Owls led 10-6 after the first quarter, but the Knights came out firing in the second with a 7-0 scoring run, ignited by a free throw from sophomore forward John Pavlick. Pavlick hit a layup about a minute in that gave the Knights their first lead, 11-10. Seven points from junior guard Colby Owings helped the Knights hold on to a 21-18 edge at the break.
Century senior guard Matt Daniel sank the team’s first 3 of the game about two and a half minutes into the third quarter to give the Knights a 26-20 lead. A pair of free throws and a 3 from Stranko put the Owls back on top, 31-28 before the Knights shut out the quarter with a trio of 3s.
Stranko notched a steal and handed the ball off to senior guard Michael Prozeller who ran through for a layup to tie the teams 46-46 with 2:48 left to play. The Owls were in the midst of a 7-0 scoring run and outscored the Knights 17-5 in the final quarter.
“Coach Kanther’s thing is always defense,” Gentzel said. “We always bring it so when the shot’s not falling, we always rely on our defense.”
Stranko added that topping the Knights at the 3-point line was something the Owls focused much of their practice on this week, and it worked in their favor.
Owings led the Knights with 13 points and added eight rebounds. Riley scored 12 points and notched seven rebounds and three steals in the Knights’ first loss in seven games.
“I thought it was a great high school game,” Knights coach George Wunder said. “Give credit to Westminster for the defensive play on us and we had opportunities and just didn't knock down some shots tonight.”