Words: Mike Moore
On Thursday, Feb. 19, the Centennial boys’ basketball team battled Mount Hebron in another installment of one of the county’s best rivalries. It was senior night for the Eagles, and, with at least a share of the county title on the line and an almost sellout crowd on hand, the stage was set for a fantastic game.
The first quarter started off a bit rocky for the Eagles, who were down by as many as eight at times and only scored seven points in the quarter. Senior guard Chad Strothers led the Eagles offensively, but some sloppy play on the offensive side of the ball led to the Vikings getting extra possessions. The Eagles were down 14-7 after one quarter of play.
The second quarter is when the Eagles turned it on. They exploded out to a 7-0 run to start the quarter and, more importantly, to tie the game. Junior guard Michael Merkey gave Centennial the lead with a three that really ignited the student section and gave the Eagles momentum that would carry them for the rest of the game. Senior guard Isaiah White shot with pinpoint accuracy in the second, and, with a put-back dunk at the end of the half, White sent the team into halftime with lots of momentum. With senior guard Kevin Wilson’s strong defensive play, the Eagles were able to take a 26-23 lead into halftime.
The second half was dominated by Centennial. Junior Tom Brown and senior Conner Clemens along with White and Strothers were relentless on the offensive end, and the Eagles outscored their opponents 17-6 in the quarter. Strothers and White both finished with 16 points. Centennial was able to get into the paint for easy shots that began to add up. By the end of the third, the Eagles had built a 14 point lead and never looked back.
Brown had the majority of his 15 points in the final quarter, getting to the rim and finishing with ease. With the defense taking care of its end of the floor, the Eagles seemed to control all phases of the game. With the crowd rocking and the stands shaking, the atmosphere was like none other. Elijah White finished with three points, Merkey had five points, and Clemens rounded out the scoring with eight points.
The Eagles earned at least a share of the county title with the win, and sent its five seniors out in the best way a Centennial athlete can leave, by beating Mount Hebron.
To get the background on the Centennial and Mount Hebron rivalry, go to chswingspan.wordpress.com.
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