Senior guard Sean Taylor talks about his 17-point performance and more after the Eagles’ 61-52 win on Dec. 18. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG staff)
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — One possession it was junior Stafford Smith drilling a 3-pointer. Another trip down the floor, it was Andrew Hohmann finishing a layup in transition. Then there was Sean Taylor, who created scoring opportunities both for himself and his front court teammates in Centennial boys basketball’s first win of the season Monday night.
Coach Chad Hollwedel listed depth and experience among the Eagles’ biggest strengths entering the year, and they displayed that versatility in a 61-52 home victory over C. Milton Wright.
“We had two early losses, and I think we weren’t mentally there and we didn’t play our best,” said Taylor, who finished with 17 points. “Today, we really played together. We pushed the ball, like coach tells us, and we really played for each other, and I think that was the key to the game.”
Taylor led the Eagles (1-2) in scoring but was far from the only offensive contributor. Smith, who drilled a pair of shots from beyond the arc, and senior forward Jaden Williams had 10 points apiece. Williams did most of his damage down low, either scoring off put backs, feeds from one of his guards or at the foul line.
The Mustangs (4-1) were primarily a one-man show when it came to scoring. Senior Imran Husain entered the game averaging 18.3 points per contest and dropped 25 on Monday night, but he wasn’t as successful in getting his teammates involved as his coach would have liked.
“The problem is sometimes when he’s scoring, the team kind of stops and they don’t play as hard because they just figure he’s going to do it for them and he’s going to carry them,” coach Jon Stefanides said. “As good as he is, he can’t carry us to where we want to go.”
Husain rattled off seven points in the first quarter, which ended, 13-13, and added four points before halftime to keep his team within striking distance. Centennial scored in other ways, such as making quick passes around the perimeter or feeding one of their teammates at the foul line.
That opened up several scoring options for the Eagles, who earned the final six points of the half to go up, 32-25, at the break.
“We have individuals that can shoot the ball. We have individuals that can score the ball,” Hollwedel said. “But we 100 percent need to get those best shots for us in the best places for us to score.”
That didn’t happen enough in back-to-back losses at Atholton and Mt. Hebron to start the season, but Hollwedel thought their shot selection improved against the Mustangs.
There were hiccups, such as the turnover barrage to start the second half, but a stout defense held up long enough for the Eagles to regain their offensive rhythm. Hohmann served as the catalyst in that third quarter by forcing Husain into tough shots and poor decisions. He also came up with six points during his team’s rough offensive stretch.
Stefanides said he wasn’t prepared for Centennial’s overall team speed. In past games between the two schools, the Mustangs were just as fast — if not faster — with their guard-oriented lineups.
This season, however, Stefanides has the luxury of having one of the biggest teams he’s ever had.
It just so happens that size served as a disadvantage Monday night.
“We couldn’t mirror what they do in practice because we’re not as small and quick as they are,” Stefanides said. “It’s hard to show what they are in practice, and that hurt us.”
Oakland Mills (2-1 county, 3-1 overall) — 65, Wilde Lake (1-2, 1-3) — 58
In a seven-point win Monday night, Oakland Mills accomplished something no other team could against Wilde Lake last season.
The Scorpions held junior guard Trea Keys to six points, two below his lowest career scoring total. For context, Keys averaged 18.6 points per game as a sophomore en route to earning Howard County Co-Player of the Year.
On the other side, junior Daeshawn Eaton continued to impress with a 15-point performance. He’s now averaging 18.3 points through four games.
OM — Eaton 15, Hairston 10, Greggs 9, Gaymon 9, Simpson 6, Eiland II 5, Chance 5, Burgess 2, Brown 2, McFadden 2.
WL — Greene 19, Joseph 8, Marshall 8, Hunter 7, Keys 6, Chamblee 3, Williams 2, Zimmerman 2.
Half: 29-23, OM
Gwynn Park (6-0) — 78, Atholton (2-2) — 77
Up six with 1 minute, 6 seconds to play, Atholton allowed Gwynn Park’s Jalen Hayes to hit back-to-back 3-pointers that tied the game. Then, junior Casey Parkins went 1-for-2 from the foul line, Hayes scored the go-ahead layup with five second left.
Raiders junior Maxwell Murray had a chance to win the game from the length of the court, but his errant attempt sealed a one-point defeat.
“Unbelievable basketball game,” coach Jared Albert said. “Just wish we were on the other side of it.”
While Hayes led all scores with 30 points, Parkins and junior Justin Oates flashed their scoring potential by dropping 20 points a piece.
The Raiders’ two losses have now come by a combined two points.