Successful basketball teams normally are built upon pressure defense.
So even though young Centennial lost 58-44 to Westminster yesterday, the fact that the Eagles created 25 turnovers by the Owls left the home team feeling it had done a lot of good things and that down the road it will start to put together more complete performances.
Nevertheless, the visiting Owls, with no starters back from last season, scored their first win of the winter after two losses.
They towered over the Eagles in a 1-3-1 zone with 6-6 Nick Hoehnwarter (14 points) and 6-7 Sean Cook as starters and 6-4 Lucas German and 6-4 Andy Leister as backups. The tallest Eagle is 6-3.
Westminster also had a lot more muscle and dominated the boards at both ends.
"We were able to open up more offensively tonight than in our two previous games," said Westminster coach Dave Byers, who cited Leister for solid play.
And, he added: "Billy Bowman played a strong all-round game for us. He's a good rebounder for a guard."
Centennial forward Kevin Laycock, one of two sophomore starters, said the Eagles are "not very big, so we have to box out.
"In the beginning, we boxed out well, and then we stopped doing it as well. If we keep working on it, it will come along."
Westminster shot especially well, hitting 23-for-38 (60 percent) from the floor. Centennial shot a dreadful 14-for-51 (27.5 percent).
"We have three guys who can shoot three-pointers," Laycock said. "We'll have to shoot threes this year, because we won't be able to bang it inside."
Yesterday, the Eagles made just one three-pointer. Westminster made five -- a 12-point difference in a game decided by 14.
Two of those Owls treys came near the start of the second half, when they put together a 10-2 run that lifted them to a bulging 32-19 lead.
Westminster, which had lost its first two games to Montgomery County's Sherwood and to Howard, also scored the last six points of the third quarter to pull away even more decisively, 40-25.
Pluses for Centennial included ball-handling (only 11 turnovers), a full-court press and cohesiveness, facets that looked advanced this early in the season.
"All but three of us played together on JV, so we know how we'll react," Laycock said. "I think we'll start to click once the league season starts and we get comfortable at this level. It's a big difference from junior varsity. Players are bigger and quicker."
Pub Date: 12/10/98