Atholton boys basketball relies on scoring depth in win over Centennial
By Kyle Stackpole
Feb 02, 2019 | 5:00 PM
|Howard County, MD
Justin Oates talks after scoring 18 points against Centennial on Feb. 2.
There were 3-pointers from Maxwell Murray and Raymond Brown and strong drives from Albert Jackson. There were old-fashioned three-point plays from senior Justin Oates and his younger brother Jordan. And then there was Casey Parkins, who did a little bit of everything for Atholton boys basketball in its 71-56 win over Centennial on Saturday afternoon.
Take away one scoring threat, and the Raiders have several other players capable of picking up the offensive slack. Just look at what they did against the Eagles. Justin Oates led all scorers with 18 points but was one of four Raiders to finish in double figures. Six players scored at least six points and three hit at least seven free throws.
It was this type of versatility that allowed No. 15 Atholton to jump ahead by double digits in the first half, maintain a sizable cushion in the third period and stave off a fourth-quarter comeback in a rivalry victory that keeps the the Raiders one game back of first-place Wilde Lake in the loss column.
“We’ve got scorers,” coach Jared Albert said. “Any given day, somebody can fill it up. We’re not just reliant on one person, and the kids are feeding into that. We all share in the success of one another.”
Justin Oates shouldered the scoring load for Atholton (8-2 county, 13-2 overall) on Saturday by hitting six field goals and making five foul shots to finish with a season-high 18 points. Parkins and Jackson each added 13 points on three two-pointers and seven free throws while Jordan Oates (11 points) drilled two of the Raiders’ six 3-pointers on the afternoon.
Albert was particularly impressed with the team’s ball movement and shot selection, especially in the first half when it racked up 38 points against a traditionally stout defense.
Centennial (7-3, 9-6) also spread around the scoring wealth — as five players totaled at least seven points — but it took far too long for coach Chad Hollwedel’s team to establish an offensive rhythm against the Raiders’ 2-3 zone. The Eagles committed eight turnovers and missed all seven of their shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Many attempts from in close rimmed out as well.
They ended the first half with just 21 points and faced a 17-point deficit at intermission.
“Atholton played so well defensively and made it really hard for us in the first half,” Hollwedel said. “We weren’t aggressive enough offensively — we got better in the second half — but their defense definitely changed the pace of the first half.”
The second half looked more like the Centennial team that won seven of its first nine league games, and the score reflected that.
No longer was Atholton going on extended scoring runs while the Eagles struggled to create an open look on the other end of the court. Their passes become crisper, their attempts more in rhythm. Brandon Bonner, who scored the team’s first nine points en route to a 16-point performance, began receiving help from the usual contributors such as Joey Sedlacko (10 points) and Cameron Berkeley (seven points). Stafford Smith and Michael Kefyalew were even better, combining for 15 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Trailing, 52-33, entering the final frame, Centennial immediately trimmed the lead to 15 points and stayed within that parameter for much of the period. Then the Eagles made another push. First Berkeley converted a layup through contact and then Smith finished a breakaway layup, plus the foul. Both players knocked down their subsequent free throws, cutting Atholton’s lead to 61-53.
But each time Centennial seemed to have gained all of the momentum, the Raiders responded. Early in the period it was Justin Oates making a layup and then a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock expired. In the final two minutes, Jackson and Parkins iced the game by combining to hit five of six free throws.
And at the final buzzer, the entire Atholton team could celebrate its fifth-straight win.
“Having so many players on our team this year really helps us,” Justin Oates said. “We have our starters and then we have our four to six players coming off the bench to really help us. In practice we really get together and we work as a team.”