The brighter the lights, the better Centennial has been this winter.
On Friday night, with first place on the line in front of a packed crowd at Oakland Mills, the Eagles got a career-high 27 points from Bryson Baker and broke open a tie game midway through the fourth quarter with a critical 8-0 run on the way to a 68-61 road victory.
“We’ve played a lot of road games, a lot of them very close, and I think they thrive on those moments when things are tight and the game hangs in the balance,” Centennial coach Chris Sanders said. “The bottom line is that this group doesn’t get scared. We don’t panic when we have a deficit and we maintain our composure when we have a lead. They’ve done a great job of understanding when it’s time to step up and execute.”
Centennial senior Brandon Bonner talks about the Eagles' 68-61 road win over Oakland Mills on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.
Five players — Baker, Brandon Bonner (13 points), Joey Sedlacko (10), Jeong Hwang (9) and Shane Taylor (9) — finished with nine or points for Centennial (8-2, 12-3), which pulls into a tie for first place in the Howard County standings with Reservoir (8-2, 11-3).
Baker, whose previous career high was 18 points in a game earlier this winter against Laurel, said the atmosphere and stakes of the contest brought out the best in him and his teammates.
“I just love playing in these hostile environments, where the games mean so much more. I was amped up, our entire team was feeding off the crowd,” Baker said. “We knew how much this game meant to our season and it ignited that fuel inside us.”
Oakland Mills (8-3, 13-4) hung around all evening behind its leading trio of Barry Evans (19 points), DJ Hopkins (14) and Truth Norton (12). A 3-pointer by Norton early in the fourth quarter gave the Scorpions a 49-48 lead.
Shortly after, the game was tied 51-51 with just under five minutes to go in regulation following a pair of free throws from Hopkins.
That is, however, when Centennial put together the game-clinching push. Baker hit a three, Bonner made a hook shot and then Taylor made another three as part of eight unanswered points that gave the Eagles a lead they never lost the rest of the way.
“The game was back and forth most of the way and then they just stepped up and hit some big shots in that fourth quarter. And that three from Shane on the weak side with the shot-clock expiring, that was a back breaker,” Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. “We just couldn’t get enough stops when we needed them, and on the other end we missed some point-blank ones and struggled with our free throws again. Centennial played well, they earned that one.”
In the final two minutes, Centennial made 7-10 from the foul line to maintain its cushion.
Centennial 68, Oakland Mills 61
C (8-2, 12-3): Baker 27, Bonner 13, Sedlacko 10, Hwang 9, Taylor 9.
OM (8-3, 13-4): Evans 19, Hopkins 14, Norton 12, Diaby 6, Jackson 4, Simpson 4, Gray 2.
Half: 34-28 C.
River Hill 57, Howard 42
Nick Marshall had his best game since returning from injury, scoring 26 points to lead the Hawks to the bounce-back victory. Ethan Smith added 13 points for a River Hill team that held the Lions to just two points over the final four minutes of the game to pull away for the win.
Cooper Haberern scored a team-high 16 points for Howard.
Ho (5-5, 9-6): Haberern 16, Colbert 8, Harris 6, Brown 4, Bruner 2, Ellis 2, Rodgers 2, Zehring 2.
Half: 26-20 RH.
Marriotts Ridge 50, Glenelg 46
On a night where the Mustangs celebrated their seniors, the team got strong contributions from almost all of its upperclassmen players — Patrick Greene, Jordan James, Andrew Page, Cam Smith and Ira Snell — to set the tone for the win over the Gladiators.
Snell ended up scoring a career-high 13 points, including hitting three 3-pointers.
Max Pearcy scored a game-high 15 points to lead the way in the loss for Glenelg.
MR (7-3, 11-5): Snell 13, Tran 8, Avent 7, Miller 7, Bryan 6, Page 4, James 3, Greene 2.
G (3-7, 6-9): Pearcy 15, Walsh 9, Tolbert 6, Owens 5, Della Russo 4, Dry 4, Dalton 3.
The Vikings exploded for 80 points offensively, their highest total in county play this winter, and went on to pick up the team’s second league win. Chris Lewis scored a career-high 29 points, while Quran Briggs was right behind him with 26 points.
The Vikings jumped out to a 38-22 lead by halftime and never slowed down from there.
Ian Addison scored a season-high 19 points to lead the way for the Golden Bears in the loss.
MH (2-8, 6-10): Lewis 29, Briggs 26, Ichrist 11, Bates 8, Brown 4, Cargiulo 2.