In a battle of defending Howard County co-champions, fifth-ranked Centennial overcame adversity to fend off inspired Atholton last night, 67-57.
Centennial (18-0 overall, 14-0 league) also tied the school record with 18 wins.
With leading scorer and rebounder Matt Laycock sitting out 1 1/2 quarters in foul trouble, starting swing man Brian Otten playing only his second game back after missing two weeks with mononucleosis, and starting forward Denny Chapman playing with a possible broken index finger, the scene was set at Centennial for an upset.
And after trailing for three quarters, Atholton (10-8, 9-4) took the lead with 7: 15 to play, 47-45.
"It was only the third time all season that we've been behind," said Centennial coach Jim Hill. "Atholton is as good a team as we'll play for a while, and threw everything they had at us tonight. I thought we showed character."
Otten and Chapman stepped up in the fourth quarter to each score six points, and guard Chip Harrison (seven points) sank two free throws with 33 seconds left to put Centennial ahead, 63-57, and clinch it for the Eagles.
"Atholton always plays us tough. This is a big rivalry, regardless of records," Harrison said. "Our shots weren't falling, and we were banged up, but we got a lift off the bench from Andy McShane (six points). This was a good win."
Senior center Brian Worsley played an awesome game for Atholton, scoring 27 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Brian Boykins also played well with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Raiders lost the game because they made 18 turnovers to Centennial's 10, and because they sank just six of 13 free throws in the second half while Centennial sank 12 of 13 free throws for the game.
"The difference was turnovers, but I'm tickled with the way we played," said Atholton coach Jim Albert. "If we can get this kind of performance in the playoffs, then we'll go a long way. I can't be more pleased with the way Worsley played. He wanted the ball and delivered when he got it."
Laycock turned in another outstanding performance for Centennial, despite missing 12 minutes. He sank his first six shots and scored 19 points, had seven rebounds and six steals. He averages 19 points and 8.5 rebounds.
Eagles point guard Scott Bross also came through with a big night, scoring eight points, making eight assists and getting nine steals.
Centennial had trouble getting Laycock the ball after the first quarter.
"They did a good job doubling down on him, and we weren't setting good picks," Bross said.
Pub Date: 2/08/97