Words: Mike Moore
Contributions from Giana Han
In front of a rowdy, packed gym on Saturday, Mar. 7, the Centennial basketball team continued down the road to College Park by defeating City College High School 65-56.
The first quarter started out as pure domination for the Eagles. Starting the game on a 6-0 run, the Eagles would only give up seven points in the first, while scoring 18 themselves.
Seniors Chad Strothers and Isaiah White along with junior Tom Brown ignited the Eagle’s offense by getting to the rim and finishing their shots, giving them a double-digit lead after one quarter.
“The way we started showed that we were 100% ready to go,” Cetennial coach Chad Hollwedel said of the fast start the Eagles had.
The second quarter was much of the same. The Eagles continued to penetrate the paint well and they got easy buckets. Centennial maintained a double-digit lead throughout the quarter.
Junior Michael Merkey and sophomore Elijah White made some big shots to keep the offense rolling while Brown, Strothers and Isaiah White continued their stellar performance. When the buzzer sounder at the end of the quarter, the Eagles took a 34-22 lead into the locker room
I. White explained that in the locker room, coach Hollwedel thought that they could give more effort, and in the second half, it was clear that his message was received by the Eagles.
After the break, the Eagles picked right back up from where they left off by scoring the first two baskets of the second half and forcing City to call an early timeout.
The offense went on a huge run, and it seemed like nothing could stop them. Brown was playing very well, and Strothers continued to make big plays.
The defense led by seniors Kevin Wilson and Eli Giest helped the offense build the lead by forcing City to settle for unwanted and difficult shots. After three, the Eagles were up 51-38, and the crowd, who had been wild all day, began to taste the win.
In the fourth, City began to play with more urgency and made some runs. But each time they made a run, Centennial answered with a bigger one.
“Coach always says that if they make a run, make a bigger run. So once they started making their run we strapped up, got the ball, and went and got a basket”, Brown said of the fourth quarter runs by City. Combined with hitting everything from jump shots to free throws, the offense was running smooth, and the defense was continuing its high level of play, never allowing City to get closer than six points of the Eagles.
Once that final buzzer sounded, the crowd and players rejoiced. The defeat at the hands of City from a year ago had been avenged, and the Eagles would be moving on to step three on their road to College Park.
“They beat us down pretty hard last year in the play-offs, and we know they’re a transition first team, so we just wanted to slow them down,” said Strothers who played them last year as a junior.
“It was more emotional, more than a game this time,” added I. White, who shared last year’s loss with Strothers.
Strothers led the Eagles with 18 points, with Brown had 13, Isaiah White had 10, and senior Connor Clemens also had 10. Merkey and E. White had five points apiece, while Wilson finished with four.
The Eagles will play the winner of River Hill and Reservoir on Monday night at Centennial.
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