HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Centennial boys basketball coach Chad Hollwedel was not worried about losing all five starters from the team that reached a regional final last season. He had confidence in his five returning seniors — all of whom made contributions a season ago — and his newcomers, such as juniors Joey Sedlacko and Jeong Hwang, who were coming up from an Eagles’ 18-1 junior varsity squad. In fact, when all of these players competed together on the JV level two years ago, they only lost a few games.
“They grow up believing in the system, and they grow up wanting to be in the system and they take pride in doing it that way,” Hollwedel said. “And that’s what we’ve been able to be successful with.”
Centennial showed as much Wednesday night. Coming off a season-opening loss to Atholton during which they managed 40 points, the Eagles had three players score in double figures and completely disrupted the offense of rival Mt. Hebron in a 69-44 drubbing.
Hollwedel’s son, senior guard Ryan Hollwedel, led all scorers with 18 points, while Sedlacko and Hwang chipped in 17 and 12 points, respectively.
The other four returning players — Cameron Berkeley, Michael Kefyalew, Matt Merkey, Stafford Smith — were also instrumental to the win, helping the Eagles run a crisp, efficient offense and a pressure defense that limited Mt. Hebron to nearly have of its season scoring average. After exploding for a combined 162 points in wins over Long Reach and Beth Tfiloh, the Vikings’ never scored more than 14 points in a quarter on Wednesday night.
“We give all the credit in the world to Centennial,” first-year coach Jared Ettinger said. “They have an excellent program, extremely well-coached, and they won because they outworked us tonight. The bottom line was that they outrebounded us and they seemed like they wanted it a little bit more.”
Mt. Hebron (1-1 county, 2-1 overall) got off to a fast start, as Chapelgate transfer Odell Dickerson, who averaged 27.5 points over the first two games, and returning first-team All-County guard Brandon Prox combined to score the team’s first six points.
However, its usually high-octane offense wasn’t the same after that. Holding an early 6-2 lead, the Vikings underwent a four-minute scoring drought filled with turnovers against Centennial’s man-to-man defense.
On the other end, the Eagles (1-1, 1-1) began to figure out the Vikings’ zone after the opening few possessions. They whipped passes around the perimeter and made defenders commit with dribble drives, both of which produced open shots. On misses, the Eagles crashed the offensive boards with an intensity the Vikings could not match.
The result was the Eagles extending their 13-9 first-quarter advantage to 32-23 before intermission.
“We just played together, shared the ball and definitely ran our stuff a lot better and executed,” Ryan Hollwedel said. “And the shots fell tonight.”
Hollwedel also pointed to shutting down Dickerson and Prox as a reason for their statement win in front of a raucous home crowd. Dickerson made just one basket after his free throw opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game. Prox had more success, racking up 11 points to join sophomore Evan Ichrist (13 points) in double figures, but his only point after intermission came on a third-quarter free throw.
Meanwhile, Centennial’s offensive success came from spreading the scoring around. Sedlacko was the Eagles’ go-to scorer in the first half with 12 points, while Hwang and Hollwedel combined to score 13 points in the third quarter as their lead ballooned to double digits. And after Kefyalew’s 3-pointer to end the period, the Eagles entered the final frame with a 54-36 advantage.
Ettinger said the blowout loss will serve as a valuable learning experience for his team moving forward. The Vikings will work on improving their offensive sets in the half court and their overall defensive effort ahead of Friday night’s road tilt against Howard.
“We’re still getting used to each other, getting used to a whole new system, and we’re working the kinks out,” Ettinger said. “So it’s game three, and the good news is that it’s one game of many, and we’re looking to rebound from it.”
Centennial (1-1 county, 1-1 overall) — 69, Mt. Hebron (1-1, 2-1) — 44
C — Hollwedel 18, Sedlacko 17, Hwang 12, Kefyalew 7, Merkey 6, Smith 4, Berkeley 3, Benavides 2.
MH — Ichrist 13, Prox 11, Ryan Kinloch 7, Crump 4, Coleman 3, Dickerson 3, Bates 2, Jackson 2.
Halftime: 32-23, C
Around the league
Atholton (2-0, 2-0) — 87, Howard (0-2, 1-2) — 52
Big games from two private school transfers lifted Atholton to its second straight county win on Wednesday night.
Jordan Oates (Glenelg Country) tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Albert Jackson (Mount Saint Joseph) added 18 points as the Raiders pulled away in the third quarter and turned the game into a blowout in the final frame.
With the victory, Atholton will play Reservoir on Friday night in a battle of unbeatens.
A — Jordan Oates 19, Jackson 18, Murray 8, Daniel 7, Parkins 7, Justin Oates 6, Mitchell 5, Brown 4, Agbor-Baiyee 3, Gaither 3, Robinson 3, Marshall 2, Miller 2.
Ho — Harris 22, Simmons 9, O’Connor 7, Colbert 5, Hendricks 4, Williams 3, Rodgers 2.
Halftime: 34-29, A
Reservoir (2-0, 3-0) — 62, Long Reach (0-2, 1-3) — 57
A 25-point fourth quarter ensured Reservoir would remain unbeaten on Wednesday night.
Holding a one-point lead entering the final period, the Gators leaned on Josh Odunowo (26 points, 14 rebounds), Ryan Saunderson (11 points) and Jaylen Barrett to stave off a hungry Long Reach squad looking for its first county win. Junior Darelle Raymond Jr. paced the Lightning with 16 points.
Re — Odunowo 26, Saunderson 11, Barrett 6, Toler 6, Soto 5, Bradford 4, McCallum 2, McKoy 2.
LR — Raymond Jr. 16, Modeste 11, Johnson 9, Martin 7, Addo 6, Brown 4, Carey 4.
Halftime: 27-25, LR
Hammond (1-0, 3-0) — 49, River Hill (0-2, 2-2) — 47
And just like that, the defending county and region champions have two league losses.
Hammond is now 3-0 on the season after escaping River Hill with a two-point triumph on Wednesday night. Per usual, Micah Henry and Jaylen Wiggins did a lot of the scoring for the Golden Bears. The senior backcourt duo combined to score 40 of the team’s 49 points.
Ha — Henry 21, Wiggins 19, Purcell 3, Asa 2, M.Miller 2, Terry 2.
RH — Okojie 12, Nick Marshall 9, Ryan Marshall 9, Yu 5, O’Brien 8, Graves 4.
Halftime: 19-16 RH
Oakland Mills (1-0, 3-0) — 63, Glenelg (0-2, 1-2) — 60
Like Hammond, Oakland Mills earned its third straight win to start the season, but Wednesday’s victory was anything but simple.
Behind 16 points from Daeshawn Eaton and 15 more from Frederick Eiland II, the Scorpions overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Gladiators, who received a combined 43 points from Hunter Koele, Carson Dick and Dan Soltis.
OM — Eaton 16, Eiland II 15, Riggs 12, Simpson 8, Gaymon 7, Hopkins 5.
G — Hunter Koele 15, Dick 14, Soltis 14, Piwowarski 8, Owens 5, Onwumbiko 4.
Halftime: 34-33, G
Wilde Lake (2-0, 2-0) — 67, Marriotts Ridge (1-1, 2-1) — 62
Once again, the senior guard duo of Marc Marshall and Trea Keys carried Wilde Lake to a county victory.
Marshall led all scorers with 22 points and Keys added 20, helping the Wildecats take control of the game in the second half. Brandon Held (18 points) and Cam Heard (14 points) provided much of the offensive production for the Mustangs.
WL — Marshall 22, Keys 20, Wright 8, Lowe 5, Boampong 4, Ali 2, Burris 2, Chamblee 2, Zimmerman 2.
MR — Held 18, Heard 14, Little 9, Cam Brown 6, Lee 4, Moore 4, Stepke 3, Miller 2, Olsufka 2.
Halftime: 29-26, MR
Mount Saint Joseph’s — 60, Glenelg Country (2-2 MIAA C Conference, 5-2) — 41
GCS — Robinson 8, Charles 7, Chase Paar 7, Yoka-Bratasz 6, Swartz 4, Sween 3, Brathwaite 2, Cole Paar 2, Ejindu 2
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Halftime: 35-16, Mount Saint Joseph’s