Centennial won the most competitive boys basketball race in Howard County history yesterday, out-dueling No. 19-ranked Oakland Mills on the final day of the regular season.
Never before had six teams remained in contention until the next-to-last week of the season.
Before a large crowd at Oakland Mills last night, the Eagles (16-6 overall, 14-4 league) won their third county title in five years, 55-49, over Oakland Mills, with a combination of depth, balance, skill and heart.
A 20-3 run in the second and third quarters also helped.
The Eagles outscored Oakland Mills 18-6 in the third quarter, turning a 29-23 halftime deficit into a 41-35 lead after three quarters.
"We thought we'd wear them down," Eagles coach Jim Hill said.
Two free throws by Cyril Chesson of Oakland Mills cut Centennial's lead to 50-49 with 1: 15 to play, but they were the final points for the Scorpions (15-7, 14-4). A goaltending call against the Scorpions boosted the Eagles' lead to 52-49.
Then, a steal by 6-foot-6 Centennial center Pat McAfee and a technical foul called against Glenn Hayman of Oakland Mills swung the momentum back to Centennial with 39 seconds left. Junior forward Kevin Laycock sank just one of the technical fouls and the Eagles missed two one-and-ones down the stretch. But Laycock sank the final two free throws of the game.