In a game full of tension and horrible shooting, 13th-ranked Centennial made 23 of 34 free throws and got key fourth-quarter baskets from senior forward Tia Richardson to defeat Mount Hebron, 37-28, in a Class 2A South region semifinal game at Centennial last night.
The Eagles (23-2) will play Central-Prince George's, a 60-55 winner over Long Reach, at Central tomorrow for the chance to make the state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
Centennial made only seven of 40 field-goal attempts and didn't make a basket in the third quarter. The Eagles did convert 8-of-8 free throws to take a 23-15 lead into the final period.
Mount Hebron, which made 13-of-20 free throws, was eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season by the Eagles. The Vikings made 6-of-44 shots and also failed to score a basket in the third quarter.
"Both teams missed easy shots," said Centennial Dave Greenberg, whose team beat Mount Hebron twice in the regular season with late-game rallies.
Centennial's eight-point margin going into the fourth-quarter evaporated in the first four minutes. Tiffaney Randle hit a three-pointer, and Annie Collins and Erin Jaschik (11 points) each made two free throws to make it a one-point game.
Mia Molfino's basket gave Mount Hebron a 24-23 lead with 5: 43 remaining, but it turned out to be the Vikings' last basket.
Mount Hebron took a two-point lead on Lauren Kickham's free throw. But Richardson, who came up big in the fourth quarter in the regular season against the Vikings, scored the next three points to put the Eagles ahead.
A free throw by Richardson cut Centennial's deficit to one. Then Stacie Tokasz came from behind and stole the ball from Kickham in the lane. Moments later, Darlena Hammond found Richardson open underneath with a perfect pass that led to Centennial's first basket of the second half and a 26-25 lead with 3: 58 remaining.
After a Mount Hebron miss, freshman Jasmine Hammond used her quickness to race for a layup and a 28-25 lead.
The Vikings (17-7) turned the ball over on their next possession, and Darlena Hammond, a junior and sister of Jasmine, was fouled and went to the line. She missed both free throws, but Tokasz and Richardson (10 points) kept the rebound alive underneath the basket.
Suddenly, Richardson, who played JV football as a sophomore, powered her way above everyone to score a layup and give Centennial a 30-25 cushion with 2: 25 left.
"That was a huge play, because five points is a lot in this game," Greenberg said. "When we got behind, [Richardson] got at it. She was going to do whatever it took."
Said Richardson: "I get all this energy at the end, and I just go for the boards a lot harder. I want it so bad. I want it more then anybody else."
Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said "what makes [the loss] hard is that these are a classy group of kids."
Centennial made 8-of-15 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Pub Date: 3/05/99