With the postseason on the horizon, Centennial coach Chris Sanders took the opportunity following his team’s loss last Friday against Atholton to remind his players that the stakes are only going to get higher moving forward.
And there was no better opportunity for the Eagles to test their mettle than in a bounce-back matchup against red-hot Wilde Lake on Tuesday in a game featuring major playoff-seeding implications.
In the end, Centennial (10-3, 15-4) rose to the occasion.
Joey Sedlacko scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds left, as the Eagles outlasted the Wildecats, 69-67. The result snapped a seven-game win streak for Wilde Lake (8-5, 13-6) and keeps Centennial in position for the top seed in 3A East Region 1.
Centennial senior Joey Sedlacko talks about the Eagles' 69-67 win over Wilde Lake on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.
“We knew that we were facing another tough one tonight, so we talked a lot about the importance of being urgent,” Sanders said. “They all matter now and the best way for us to put that Atholton loss behind us was to come out tonight, start fast and try to regain some of the spark that we’ve been playing with over the course of the season.”
Bryson Baker matched Sedlacko with 21 points for the Eagles, while Brandon Bonner and Shane Taylor chipped in with eight points apiece. In a game with seven ties and 15 lead changes, the outcome wasn’t decided until the final second as Wilde Lake fell short by two points when it was unable to secure a rebound on a missed foul shot as time expired.
Brince Shelton finished with a game-high 22 points for a Wildecats’ team that dropped a tight game against Centennial for the second time this winter.
“Victory favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes and we made more mistakes than them in those final 90 seconds,” said Wilde Lake coach Deon Wingfield, whose team went ahead 64-61 on a 3-pointer by Marcus Mitchell (15 points) with 1:40 left in regulation.
Centennial ended up making stops on the next four Wilde Lake possessions, forcing tough shots and generating two turnovers. Liam Lovering converted a put-back basket with 1:16 left to make it a one-point game and then Sedlacko took a kick-out pass from Baker and hit the go-ahead basket with just under a minute remaining.
After that, Centennial hit three foul shots in the final 12 seconds to maintain its advantage.
“We found our teammates in open spots, we were driving and kicking and it was really helpful for us to slow the game down a little bit even though it was really fast paced,” Sedlacko said.
Wilde Lake got a layup by Kyjuan Adams with two seconds remaining to make it a one-possession game, but — after fouling to extend the contest — never managed to get off another shot.
“We played really well for nearly 31 minutes tonight, but in that last minute or so we got away from the things that had gotten us to that point. We made some unforced errors and Centennial took advantage,” Wingfield said.
The back-and-forth affair saw Centennial jump ahead 19-10 during the first quarter behind some inspired play from Baker before Wilde Lake came roaring back with a 14-1 run led by Shelton that made it 24-20 midway through the second period.
The two teams then traded blows, with the Eagles leading 32-30 at the half and the game sitting tied at 48 heading to the fourth quarter.
That’s when Sedlacko, Centennial’s leading scorer on the season at 15 points per game, began to assert himself. He made a couple layups, a trio of foul shots and then hit the back-breaking triple from the corner.
“I think sometimes our balance offensively this year has maybe overshadowed just how consistent Joey has been for us,” Sanders said. “He knows we have other scorers, so he’s really been able to pick his spots more. Tonight, when we needed him, he was ready … and I’ll take him shooting those big shots any day.”
Centennial is back in action on Thursday at River Hill, while Wilde Lake travels to face Atholton the same day.
Centennial 69, Wilde Lake 67
C (10-3, 15-4): Baker 21, Sedlacko 21, Bonner 8, Taylor 8, Lovering 6, Hwang 3, Benavides 2.
Aria Ameli (9 points) set the tone with three 3-pointers in the first four minutes and the Gators never trailed on the way to the team’s 11th straight victory. Bobby Hill (18 points) and Rashad Ballard (12) finished as the scoring leaders for Reservoir, which opened up a 37-23 lead by halftime.
LR (2-11, 5-14): Addo 11, Raymond 10, Olivis 8, Yarbough 6, Lado 4, Brown 2, Malloy 2, Dompreh 1.
Half: 38-21 OM.
Glenelg 57, Atholton 54
The Gladiators snapped a four-game losing skid, going on the road and prevailing behind big games from Bisi Owens (16 points) and Max Pearcy (12). Owens hit four 3-pointers, including three during the third quarter.
Glenelg avenged a 60-38 loss at the hands of the Raiders earlier this winter.
G (4-9, 7-11): Owens 16, Pearcy 12, Walsh 9, Dry 7, Tolbert 7, Della Russo 6.
A (7-5, 11-7): Brown 13, Oates 11, Daniel 10, Miller 6, Rankin 5, Swartz 4, Anderson 2, Nwaklor 2, Rabb 1.
Half: 26-24 G.
Marriotts Ridge 54, Hammond 44
John Miller (17 points) and Cole Tran (12) led the way as the Mustangs won their fourth straight game, staying one game back in the Howard County standings. Marriotts Ridge started the game on fire, hitting five threes in the first quarter on the way to a 21-11 lead after the first eight minutes.
MR (10-3, 14-5): Miller 17, Tran 12, Snell 8, James 5, Page 5, Bryan 4, Avent 3.
Ha (3-9, 7-11): Addison 12, King 8, Moore 6, Thomas 6, Alexandre 4, Aodu 4, Edwards 4,
Half: 26-22 MR.
River Hill 60, Mt. Hebron 51
The Hawks pulled their record back to .500 overall, as four players scored in double figures for only the second time all season. Nick Marshall finished with a game-high 22 points, followed by 10 points apiece from Ethan Smith, Victor McKoy and Tishe Saliu.
River Hill was ahead by just two points heading into the fourth quarter, but scored 21 points in the final period to pull away.
Quran Briggs scored 17 points to lead the way for the Vikings.