With Glenelg's girls basketball team winning games by large margins and heading toward an unbeaten county season, not many people noticed Centennial.
And Centennial coach Dave Greenberg could understand why.
"We've kind of been in the background this year, and that was partly because we struggled and deserved to be there," Greenberg said. "Then as the season went on, we got better and better, and the last few weeks, we've played really well.
"I'm really proud of the girls. They've come a long way."
All the way, in fact, to the school's second county title in the last three seasons.
No. 16-ranked Centennial earned a share of the county championship with Glenelg by handing the fifth-ranked Gladiators their first loss of the season, 46-41, at Glenelg Tuesday.
"It feels good," said Centennial freshman Jasmine Hammond, one of three players who helped hold Glenelg's Lauren Martin to 17 points. "I've never felt like this before. It's good to know you can beat a team that was undefeated."
Glenelg had beaten Centennial, 52-31, on Jan. 23, the first game after exam week when players were not allowed to practice. In that game, Glenelg had four players in double figures -- Martin (15), Kris Brust (12), Stephanie Howell (12) and Heather Young (10).
In Tuesday's game, Brust had 13 points (four in the last 35 seconds), but Young and Howell had only five and four points, respectively.
"We knew Lauren was going to score," Greenberg said. "We wanted to shut the other kids down. They hurt us the last time. They shot more poorly because we were on them."
Said Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar: "Centennial played 100 times better [than the first meeting]. They definitely wanted it more than they did the last time."
Centennial's season has been a work in progress.
"Trying to get the kids to be mentally alert and to do all the little things that you need to do to win has been a struggle at times," said Greenberg, whose teams have won 15 county titles in 21 seasons (13 of them in 16 years at Mount Hebron).
But the key, Greenberg said, was the players never gave up.
"Even when we looked horrendous, the one thing that's been consistent has been their tenacity -- their willingness to battle the entire game, not back down, and keep on working."
Centennial showed that in two come-from-behind wins against Mount Hebron and a double-overtime victory at Oakland Mills.
"We very easily could have lost that game," said Greenberg about the Oakland Mills game. In that game, foul trouble limited senior Tia Richardson to about one quarter. Another senior, Stacie Tokasz, was on a college visit.
"I think that's a reflection of the tenacity I'm taking about," Greenberg said. "Somehow they've gotten it done even when we've struggled. I'm really proud of that."
Sophomore guard Ashley Evans leads the Eagles in scoring with a 15.9 average. She has made 56 three-pointers and is shooting 37 percent from behind the arc.
Richardson is the team's leading rebounder (eight a game) and second-leading scorer (10.1).
"The biggest thing is that her attitude has been terrific and that she's asserted herself as a leader," Greenberg said of Richardson.
Tokasz leads the team in steals, is averaging 5.5 points and "has hit some huge shots for us," Greenberg said. "She's been a pleasant surprise. We didn't expect her to have the year she's had."
Sisters Darlena and Jasmine Hammond, a junior and freshman, respectively, have "been a tremendous addition" for the Eagles, the coach said. The transfers from Southern California are excellent defensive players. Darlena is the team's second leading rebounder (4.7) and third leading scorer (6.3)
Lisa Richardson, a freshman and Tia's sister, also has played well. She's the third leading rebounder (4.3) and "comes off the bench and gives us a spark," said Greenberg.
Every Centennial player who got in the game scored against Glenelg. And that, said Greenberg, is why the team has been successful.
"At different times different kids have come through, and that's the idea," Greenberg said. "That's the way it should be."
The Eagles, who visit Atholton tomorrow in the first round of the Class 2A South region playoffs, are without junior guard Maggie Via for the rest of the season. Via tore her right anterior cruciate ligament against Mount Hebron Feb. 18 and faces surgery next month.
Wilde Lake coach Kelly Storr said her team played its "best game of the season" in an 81-43 victory at Howard Tuesday.
"I was real proud of them. With everything that's happened, they could have quit but they didn't," she said. "They went out and played their best game."
The Wildecats have been hit by injuries this season, and two sometime-starters were kicked off the squad within the last two weeks for breaking team rules.
Junior guard Nina Jackson tore her right anterior cruciate ligament against River Hill and will have surgery next month. Sophomore guard Sarah Hobart has played this season after ACL surgery but has been slowed during the recovery process. Junior guard Alexis Hurley broke a knuckle earlier in the season, and right knee problems let freshman guard Shanee Johnson play only four games.
Storr has called up two JV players -- Kelly Thomas and Grazia Silvestro. Thomas had six points and Silvestro four as nine players scored against Howard. Bryanna Herring, who picked up three fouls in the first quarter and her fourth in the third quarter, finished with 25 points.
Here are the final regular-season girls county basketball standings (overall, county):
Glenelg 21-1, 17-1; Centennial 20-2, 17-1; Mount Hebron 16-6, 12-6; River Hill 12-10, 11-7; Oakland Mills 10-12, 9-9; Wilde Lake 11-11, 8-10; Long Reach 9-13, 7-11; Hammond 7-13, 6-12; Howard 3-19, 3-15; Atholton 1-21, 0-18.
Archbishop Curley ended Centennial's run in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League Tier II playoffs yesterday with a 6-3 victory at the Gardens Ice House.
Centennial, which trailed 4-0 after the first period, got two goals and an assist from Pat Schaeffer and a goal from Dave Turer.
"We played OK. They just had more depth and were a more well-rounded team," said Schaeffer. "We had some sparks, but we couldn't keep it going for any amount of time."
Pub Date: 2/25/99