Oakland Mills has had some horrifying moments in Centennial's gym in past seasons, so the No. 20-ranked Scorpions didn't take last night's game lightly despite the young Eagles' mediocre record.
The Scorpions sank five three-point baskets in the first half, breaking down Centennial's zone defense and eventually scoring a 73-55 victory that was closer than the final score indicated.
Oakland Mills (12-3 overall, 10-1 league), the Howard County league leader, again relied heavily for offense on its 6-foot-5 forwards, Anthony Breland (25 points, 13 rebounds) and Murray Graves (18 points, 10 rebounds).
Breland and Graves scored 12 of Oakland Mills' last 14 points, and it was a steal, dunk and three-point play by Breland that gave the Scorpions a 57-47 lead with 4: 50 to play. Centennial had trimmed a 19-point Oakland Mills lead to five, 52-47, with 5: 57 to play.
"I don't have a clue how to stop them [Breland and Graves]," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "We got close but didn't have enough horses to catch them. We wore out at the end."
Centennial (7-8, 5-6), which starts three sophomores, a junior and a senior, had previously upset Mount Hebron and Atholton and had the Scorpions in its sights.
But missed free throws, turnovers and a missed layup at crucial moments by the Eagles allowed the senior-dominated Oakland Mills squad to gain the upper hand in the closing minutes.
"I knew it would be a good game because of their upsets," Breland said. "It was tougher than I thought."
Oakland Mills shot 50 percent (30-for-60) from the floor and twice sank five straight baskets, once in the second quarter and once toward the end of the game.
In addition to Breland and Graves, point guard Thomas Browne scored nine points, and reserve forward Cyril Chesson scored eight.
"What really killed us was their outside shooting," Centennial's Brian O'Connor said. "We didn't expect that. Browne really hurt us."
O'Connor and Phil Kirocofe led Centennial with 13 points apiece.
Centennial displayed excellent ball movement, beating the Oakland Mills press in the first quarter, but the Eagles trailed 16-10 because the Scorpions sank three treys that quarter.
The Oakland Mills press finally wore down the Eagles in the second quarter, when Centennial made just three of 16 shots to fall behind 36-19 at halftime.
Pub Date: 1/30/99