Words: Josh Horen
In what was a very up-and-down kind of game, the Centennial Eagles dropped their season opener in heart breaking fashion against the Atholton Raiders, with a final score of 69-62.
It was a face-paced game from the tip off, as the Raiders jumped out to a 7-4 lead early. Centennial answered with a 6-0 run of their own and for the rest of the first quarter it was a back and fourth affair. With 4:16 to go in the first quarter, Centennial senior Hayden Ford came off the bench and provided an immediate spark, making several big time shots including an ally-oop lay-up with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Atholton was holding onto a one point lead heading into the second quarter, 16-15. Centennial’s nerves were a huge factor as they committed sloppy turnovers, and seemed out of sync on the offensive end. Ford was the only thing clicking offensively for Centennial in the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Eagles started to find their offensive groove, outscoring the Raiders by 8 points. Ford again was grabbing down offensive rebound after offensive rebound and either finishing it or making it to the free throw line. With 6:30 to go in the second quarter, Ford gathered himself in the post and threw down a thunderous slam which sent the Centennial crowd into a frenzy. Atholton was hanging tough though, pulling within four points of Centennial with 2:30 to go. Senior Andrew Hohmann nailed a three-pointer to put the Eagles up 31-24 and Senior Shawn Hill provided points and energy off the bench to help extend the lead.
After a Stafford Smith lay-up, Centennial found themselves up 37-26 at the break. Ford led all scorers with 13 points and Hill dumped in seven points to boost Centennial’s lead. Centennial was looking like they would run away with the game after the first half but the Raiders didn’t quit just yet.
Despite the higher scoring in the first half, senior Sean Taylor thought the Eagles weren’t playing at the pace they wanted to.
“Our transition defense hurt us and we failed to get back on defense early in the game. On the offensive end we allowed them to speed us up a bit, which then lead to turnovers,” said Taylor.
The Eagles came out of halftime scorching hot. With a little under 5 minutes to play in the third quarter, back to back 3’s by Hohmann and fellow senior Corey Eudell extended Centennial’s lead, making it 47-33. Ford was continuing to put in the dirty work in the paint and just kept on providing offensively for the Eagles.
However, the Eagles watched their lead dwindle in the final minute of the third quarter. The Raiders closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run, including a buzzer beater at the end of the third to close the gap to four points.
Centennial held onto a 54-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Atholton was gaining momentum. After a Taylor go-ahead 2 pointer Centennial was leading 58-57 before Atholton took a full timeout.
After the timeout, Atholton sunk a lay-up with 4:30 left to play to take the lead 59-58. After that shot, Atholton never lost their lead. The Raiders closed out their win on a 7-2 run again and Centennial could not seem to get a shot to fall.
After a very tough loss, Taylor is ready to bounce back and he doesn’t want to harp on the loss too much.
“All in all, we will see them again and we will be better and fix our mistakes. We understand that it is early in the season but that is not to be seen as excuse. Only way to go is up from here,” said Taylor.Centennial surely can’t dwell on the loss too much because their next game is against their arch-rival, Mount Hebron.
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