Words: Michael Moore
Photos: Caroline Oppenheimer
On Wednesday January 29, the Centennial boys’ basketball team took on Oakland Mills in showdown of the top two teams in the county. The gym was packed and there was a playoff-like atmosphere.
Centennial got off to a 7-0 start in the first quarter, which was highlighted by a dunk from senior guard Isaiah White to extend Centennial’s lead to 9-1. The Eagles dominated the first quarter on the offensive end, defensive end, and on the boards, and it ended with a 15-9 Centennial lead.
The second quarter was the same. Senior Chad Strothers and junior Tom Brown continued their impressive games in the second, notching points when they needed to be scored. Senior Kevin Wilson was a force on the boards in the second quarter, helping to facilitate the Eagles offense. White made another exciting play, igniting the crowd with a dunk that gave the Eagles an 11 point lead. The Eagles defense stood tall in the second, helping to preserve a 30-22 lead at the half.
The third was another strong quarter for the Eagles’ offense. Brown had a very good quarter, leading the Eagles out to an 8-3 run to begin the quarter. The Eagles and Scorpions went back and forth in the third quarter, which ended with Centennial on top 43-35.
The stage was set for an exciting final quarter. Oakland Mills got big rebounds early in the quarter to pull within 3. The Eagles held off the push from the visitors, but the Scorpions’ momentum carried them to take the 1 point lead a little over three minutes into the fourth. With the visitors controlling the boards and the Eagles struggling to get calls in the paint, Centennial was in an uphill battle in the home stretch of the game. The teams traded baskets, one team never holding the lead for very long.
With the visitors holding the momentum and time running short, the Eagles found themselves down by three points. This did not seem to bother White, as he drained a long three pointer that not only tied the game, but got the home crowd back in it but energized the team. With just under 10 seconds to play, Strothers hit a free throw that put the Eagles ahead. However, with five seconds left, Oakland Mills hit two free throws that tied the game and sent it to overtime.
The overtime period was back and forth in the beginning, with the two teams once again trading leads. Brown, White, and Strothers helped score points but Oakland Mills would eventually escape with a 66-61 win.
Strothers, Brown, and White would finish with 18, 17, and 15 points respectively, with Wilson adding three more. Senior Connor Clemens and Junior Min An both finished with four points. The Eagles also got strong defensive play from Senior Eli Giest, who made some key blocks down the stretch.