Playing its last certain home game before an emotional, near-capacity crowd last night, a senior-laden Centennial squad broke the county record for most consecutive wins in a season.
The fifth-ranked Eagles defeated Mount Hebron, 71-62, stretching their record to 22-0. The record had belonged to Mount Hebron's 1979 team, which won its first 21 games.
"This is something they'll be able to tell their kids about. It can never be taken away from them," said Centennial coach Jim Hill. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime team that beat a good Mount Hebron team today."
Four Eagles scored in double figures, and the team made 27 of 45 shots (60 percent) from the floor, including six three-point shots. They were led by Matt Laycock's 18 points. Denny Chapman and Aaron Williams each scored 15. And Chip Harrison scored 11.
Centennial never trailed and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter.
The Eagles overcame a frantic full-court press by Mount Hebron in the fourth quarter that succeeded in cutting the lead to nine points but no closer.
Chapman, who tore a hole in the palm of his right hand the size of a half-dollar while diving for a ball two games ago, had his shooting hand taped but still sank three three-point baskets to help break Mount Hebron's 2-3 zone and, later, a triangle-and-two defense. Chapman also had the index finger on his left hand taped because of a possible fracture.
"Chapman epitomizes the type of team we have -- [one] that will dive for balls that hard," Hill said.
Harrison sank two three-point baskets in the second period, when the Eagles pulled out to a 34-25 halftime lead. Harrison also made three steals.
Mount Hebron (8-13, 8-10), which forfeited eight games this season because of using an ineligible benchwarmer but had won eight straight, played well, sinking 22 of 53 shots (41 percent) from the floor, including five three-pointers.
Eli Wishnivetski led the Vikings with 18 points, and Mike Stromberg had 15 points.
"This is a relief, because a lot of people expected us to go undefeated," Laycock said. "The great thing about our team is that if one person is being stopped, someone else will score."
Harrison and Williams, who stepped up their scoring when Laycock missed two games last week, produced again. Williams was especially effective in the second half when he scored 14 points.
Pub Date: 2/20/97