Tag: Chad Strothers

Photos from the 3A Championship Game

Game Photos: Izzie Chausse

Post-Game Photos: Giana Han

For coverage of the game, see Mike Moore’s article https://chswingspan.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/the-boys-basketball-team-brings-home-the-state-title/ .

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

The Boys’ Basketball Team Brings Home the State Title

Words: Mike Moore

With what seemed to be the entire student body on hand and wearing red, the Centennial boys’ basketball team took the floor for their class 3A state title game against Westlake High School. An entire section of the arena was filled with Centennial pride, and it lifted the team to their first ever state title.

The first quarter was back and forth. Westlake scored quickly, but the Eagles answered right back. Fouls were common in the first quarter, with Centennial amassing five in the opening quarter. Junior Tom Brown was a key player in the first quarter, giving the Eagles five of their nine first quarter points. The defense also set the tone for the beginning of the game, something Head Coach Chad Hollwedel takes pride in.

“All year long, defense has started it for us and it was no different today,” Hollwedel said during the post game press conference. It was tied 9-9 after one, with Brown and senior Isaiah White leading the offensive push.

The second quarter began with senior Eli Giest giving the Eagles the lead 29 seconds in. White came up with two key blocks in the second, and senior Kevin Wilson was playing stellar defense in the second, but Westlake built a five point lead.

However, that 16-11 lead was short lived. Sophomore Elijah White threw down a dunk that ignited the enormous Centennial crowd. Shortly after, the game was tied when Isaiah White converted a three point play to tie things up. About a minute later, I. White went coast to coast for an easy lay in to push the Eagles ahead.

Another three point play by senior Chad Strothers gave the Eagles a five point lead. A three point bucket by I. White gave the Eagles a 24-20 lead going into the locker room. The stage was set for one last half of basketball for the teams, both of whom were looking to find an edge in the second half.

The second half started off a bit rocky for the Eagles. An early turnover gave Westlake a basket that brought their lead to two. Westlake was also clogging up the passing lanes of the Eagles, making it difficult to move the ball. Another three point jumper from I. White gave the Eagles a four point lead.

Westlake hit another shot and then a three pointer to give them a one point lead, which was washed away by an E. White three ball, and Centennial was up again 30-28. Brown finished a layup with just under three minutes to go in the quarter to extend the lead. A three point play by E. White and a bucket from Giest rounded out the third quarter scoring, and Centennial was up 37-34 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was one Centennial fans and players alike will remember for years to come. Strothers recorded six straight points for Centennial, shifting the mood of the game for both teams. An 8-0 run, concluded by a smooth jumper from I. White gave the Eagles a lead they would hold onto.

Strothers continued his prolific quarter by converting yet another three point play to extend the lead to 48-35. As time began to wind down, the players and coaches started to sense what they were about to accomplish. With an amazing crowd on hand to support them and a comfortable double digit lead, the crowd began to make even more noise as they began the celebration. A dunk by I. White made it clear that the game belonged to the Eagles. Junior Michael Merkey hit two free throws that sealed the deal, and Elijah White put icing on the cake with a second dunk with just over a minute left.

Once that clock hit all zeros the Xfinity Center erupted. The joy on the faces of the players, coaches and fans was remarkable. The team had brought this community together, and now, they could celebrate this great accomplishment as one.

Brothers Elijah and Isaiah White have had a unique experience throughout the season, being able to take the court together as a sophomore and senior respectively, and that has meant a lot to them. Isaiah explained how even though there’s a whole team out there, it’s different playing with his brother.

Senior Kevin Wilson has been the anchor of the defense all season for the Eagles. Every night he has blanketed the other team’s best player and Hollwedel gives him a lot of credit for the team being where they are today.

“There is zero chance that we’re sitting here without Kevin Wilson’s defensive efforts this year, no chance at all […] Kevin is an absolute warrior and he’s a special player.  He sacrifices himself every game for the good of us, and I’m so proud of him,” Hollwedel explained.

This team is special for Hollwedel. “I’m actually sad that this is the last time I get to coach this group. I wish we could keep going somehow because I don’t want it to end,” he said.

The 2014-15 season has been a special year for this team. The community has rallied around the team and the team has fed off the support fans show both during the games and outside of the games. The team has brought an entire school together, putting people who may not have been friends together as they celebrated the success of fellow classmates. The basketball team won the game, but in the grand scheme of things, it was the students and parents of Centennial High School that might’ve earned the greater victory this Saturday March 14, 2015.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

The Eagles are Headed to States

Words: Giana Han

Photos: Izzie Chausse

Contributions from Mike Moore

On March 12, 2015, the Eagles finished what they had started three years ago when the team won the state semifinal against the C. Milton Wright Mustangs, 75-61.

From the moment the team stepped onto the floor for warm-ups, they were sinking shots, and the crowd was going wild.  The game was set at Xfinity Center, creating a very different feel than the one of the comfortable high school gym at Centennial.

“The perception of the shots were different.  We’re used to having a wall there,” said senior Isaiah White.  “When we came out, we had our school, our community behind us, so that helped relieve the pressure.”

The fans quieted down for a moment when the Mustangs won the tip-off and quickly converted it into points with a basket from CMW’s Corey Bays.

However, a minute and 15 seconds into the game, a basket by junior Tom Brown tied the game, and 30 seconds later, a three from senior Chad Strothers put Centennial in the lead.  I. White put another two on the board, and senior Connor Clemens followed that with another three, putting the Eagles up 10-4.  The Eagles were off and running, and they never looked back.

Supported by Centennial’s strong defense, Strothers took advantage of the steals and defensive rebounds his teammates passed to him and scored several lay-ups, making tough shots look easy.  The Eagles were playing a fast game that was different than their usual methodical offense, yet very effective.

Head Coach Chad Hollwedel said, “It starts for us on the defensive end.  We play with the defensive energy and we get stops, it leads to run outs and it gets us started.  We have worked very hard at creating tempo in the half court set to get the shots we want.”

The Eagles were up 18-11 when senior Eli Geist and sophomore Elijah White checked into the game. Seconds after stepping onto the floor, Geist put a rebound back up, scoring the final points of the quarter.

Entering the second, CMW’s Christopher Lorenzo cut the Eagles 20-11 lead to seven points with a three point shot.  Seniors I. White and Strothers responded immediately.  A tipped rebound to I. White led to a fast break where he crossed out a defender for an easy lay-up.  Strothers converted a steal into a lay-up and then drove to the basket, laying the ball up nice and easy over two defenders on the next play.  Less than four minutes into the second quarter, Strothers was already in double digits for points.

The rest of the team helped to solidify the lead with strong defensive rebounds from Brown and blocks from Geist and I. White.  Junior Michael Merkey, Brown, and E. White put points on the board, and the Eagles finished the half up 36-24.

Baskets from I. White, Clemens, and Strothers quickly extended the Centennial lead to 18 points in the second quarter.  However, CMW’s Bays was putting up a fight and cut the lead to 15.

Even with Bays’ effort, the Eagles continued to dominate the third.  E. White and Geist came in to score points while Brown (10 rebounds) dominated the boards, eliminating second chance shots for the Mustangs.  With a 19 point cushion, the Eagles had set themselves up for a promising final quarter.

The opening play of the fourth was a put back from Mustang Kyle Harkins, and the Mustangs quickly set up a press.  Bays, Harkins, and Seth Walker sank their shots, and the Eagle’s lead was cut down to 13.

However, the Eagles followed their normal philosophy of when a team goes on a run, they just need to respond with a bigger run.

“Coach talked about making sure we closed out on their shooters because they started to knock down their shots,” said E. White.  “Just closing out and forcing their quick shots.  Then they started missing a couple.”

“You know they were a good team, knew they would make a run,” said Hollwedel.  “We weathered that storm and made a little run, just trying to minimize their runs and maximize ours.”

With lay-ups from Strothers, E. White, and senior Kevin Wilson, and strong rebounds from Brown, the Eagles established that they weren’t ready to go home.

This was confirmed when a fast break led to a spectacular dunk by E. White followed minutes later by one from his brother.  With a strong lead created by Strothers (19 points), I. White (19), Clemens (10), E. White (10), Geist (6), and Brown (6), the starters were retired, and the Eagles were able to clear their bench.

With a final free throw from Min An, the game ended 75-61, and the crowd went wild.  The program had made it past the obstacle the state semi-final to game had presented to the team of 2011-2012.

“When I was a freshman, I remember watching the varsity team go through the halls and we were all clapping for them, I just thought, man, that would be awesome to have that opportunity someday,” said Strothers.  “We worked really hard to get here.”

Some of the team who had made it to the 2012 state semi-finals last were in the crowd cheering on the kids who were once J.V. players looking up to them.

“It kinda was awesome, having them see us because we were out there watching them, and to have them come see us, it’s like [being] in their shadow almost.  And now we have the chance to gain the state title, and we want to make them proud,” said Strothers.

The entire team was able to contribute to the win.  According to Hollwedel, their amazing teamwork stems from the fact that they are a great group who truly like each other and are willing to put in the work.

“I’m fortunate, with the staff, to be able to try and cultivate that a little bit more.  From a basketball perspective, there are things they can work on, but if they weren’t the kids they were, it wouldn’t matter,” said Hollwedel.

“We all play together, so it’s not only one player,” added E. White.  “It’s the whole team, and when we’re all working together, it works.”

The next game will be at Xfinity Center on March 14 at 3 p.m.

“Every day we talk with the kids about just finding a way to be 1-0 at the end of the day.  We’re going to have a fight in for us with a very good basketball team on Saturday, and we’re going to go home and start preparing for the next game,” said Hollwedel.  “It’s been a great group all year, they deserve to play one more time.”

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Photos From the Regional Championship

Photos: Izzie Chausse

For coverage of the game, see the article by Giana Han at https://chswingspan.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/the-eagles-win-a-double-victory-a-state-title-and-a-regional-championship/

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Eagles Fly Past Their First Boys’ Basketball Play-off Game

Words: Michael Moore

Contributions from Giana Han

The gym at Centennial High School Wednesday night was as crowded as ever. Along with the anticipation of a snow day, the student section was loud and rowdy for the Eagle’s first playoff game of the season against Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly). The Eagles pulled out a dominating 50-34 win to advance in the tournament.

The first half didn’t start ideally for the Eagles when they got into some early foul trouble. Seniors Chad Strothers and Isaiah White registered two fouls in the first half.

“Went a little offense-defense substitution in the first half just to try and steal a couple minutes with Isaiah because he’s so critical for us on the floor. But, with that said, I thought we weathered the storm with Chad and Connor and Isaiah each with two fouls,” Centennial head coach Chad Hollwedel said.

The Eagles could not get shots to drop in the first half, sometimes settling for poor shot opportunities and struggling on the glass. The Eagles also had some calls that didn’t quite go their way, and, after two quarters of play, Centennial was down 22-15.

Centennial came out quick in the second half after Hollwedel “reminded us that we’re the better team, and we’ve got to play together if we want to win,” according to Strothers.

White scored four points in 30 seconds to cut the lead to three. Later in the quarter, sophomore Elijah White (4 points) gave Centennial a one point lead and they never looked back from there.

On the defensive end, seniors Kevin Wilson and Eli Geist (3 points) were containing the Poly Engineers.  Wilson played some lockdown defense while Geist flew through the air blocking shots and grabbing rebounds.  Their efforts limited the number of second-chance shots Poly got and helped keep them from grabbing their lead back.

Junior Tom Brown (12 points) was a key factor in the comeback effort. He explained the team’s process during the comeback, saying that once they stopped taking a lot of three point shots and started driving to the basket more, the game turned in their favor.

By midway through the final quarter, the Eagles had built a double-digit lead on Poly. Centennial was hitting their shots and the defense was playing stout, forcing Poly to settle for unwanted shots.  The fans and players could sense it. The feeling of victory began to sweep through the gym. The players were excited and the atmosphere was as electric as ever.

When Strothers (10 points) broke free on a fast break, he looked to the side to see I. White (16 points) keeping up with him.  So he gave up the free lay-up to give I. White the chance, and he threw a dunk down with a little over a minute to go which was the final nail in the coffin.

Anticipation had been building for days.  This game was originally scheduled for Mar. 3, but inclement weather kept pushing it back.  However, the Eagles did not let that stop them.  According to Strothers, they kept in touch and met at the Y to keep from getting cold.

This was just the first step in the journey to College Park. The next game is on Friday against City High School at Centennial, and Strothers is excited for the opportunity. He said, “We just need to keep each night and not look ahead and focus on the task ahead of us.  I think if we keep playing like we did in the second half, who knows how far we’ll go?”

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Eagles Celebrate County Basketball Title

Words: Giana Han

Photos: Izzie Chausse

Contributions from Sandy Eichhorn and Sabrina Han

After three years, Centennial can once again claim to be home of the boys’ basketball county champions.

On Feb. 20, the Eagles beat Marriotts Ridge 60-29 which cinched the 2015 county title for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.  The game was away, so the accomplishment was not celebrated in the same way it would have been if it had occurred at home.  To remedy this, the varsity team was called down during second period for a special ceremony.

The team, coaches, and managers gathered in the cafeteria along with the administrators where Centennial’s athletic director, Jean Vanderpool, presented them with the flag and trophy.

Before handing over the trophy, Vanderpool said, “You will be able to come back here forever and look up at the red banner in the gym and see it says 2015 boys’ county champions.”

“You are, and have been, extremely successful,” added principal Claire Hafets.  “The school has taken so much pride in your success.  The community has taken pride in your success, and the coaches have taken pride in your success.  Remember this feeling of success.  You will always be successful because you know this feeling.”

Following the speeches and pictures, the team went outside to watch the captains raise the county championship flag before they celebrated with a breakfast.

The last time the basketball team earned this title, the seniors on the basketball team were just freshman on J.V.

“Freshmen year, I never thought we’d get here, looking at all of us,” said senior captain Chad Strothers. “But, as we developed each year, I could see us getting closer.” According to Strothers, seeing the varsity team named champions his freshman year was a motivation.

“It looked like such a great feeling,” he said.  “I wanted to get there.”

Senior Isaiah White had been working towards this goal as well.  Each year, he was given the chance to play for other teams at other schools, but each year, he decided to stick with the Centennial program.

“I believed in what we did here,” said White.  “We do it the right way.”

Gaining the county title was part of the goal that the team set at the beginning of the year, but the process in getting it was a long one.

“We grinded each day in practice, we always worked hard,” said senior Connor Clemens.  “In the offseason, we’d shoot baskets in the gym, and we played fall, spring, and summer leagues.”

Coach Chad Hollwedel agreed that the players had worked hard through off-seasons, and he also said, “A lot of different things have to go right.  We were fortunate to stay healthy this season, but a lot of different people stepped up during different parts of the season.  It’s not just one or two or three or four people; it’s 12 people on the floor that made the difference.”

He added that the loss to Oakland Mills turned out to be an advantage.

“It helped tremendously during the season to help prepare us to deal with tight games and adversity.  It prepared us to compete in the next part of the season,” said Hollwedel.  The game was the closest game of the year for the Eagles, and Hollwedel hopes it will prepare them for the atmosphere of the play-offs.  However, even though it resulted in a loss, he and the other coaches are still proud of their record of 18-1.

“I believe it’s the second best record in the history of the school.  I think the last was in 1996 when they went 22-0,” he said.

As senior Eli Geist said, “It’s a good reward for all the hard work everyone does, not just us.”

White added, “It’s not just the players who get all the playing time.  Players who don’t get playing time much, push the players who do in practice.”

“It doesn’t matter what role people play on the team, whether it’s being out on the court and playing or being on the bench and picking each other up, everyone is there for each other,” said Strothers.

“To be able to have this experience as a group after all the years of work, they get to see a reward” said Hollwedel.  “Chad and Isaiah were huge this year.  For the three who didn’t play much last year, it’s a great reward for me to see them play a different role with the success they’re having.”

Senior Kevin Wilson is one of those three seniors.  He said, “It’s really important to me because last year, as a junior, I didn’t see the court much.  This year, I’m contributing [tremendously, added White]. We’re the backbone of the team.”

The seniors have played an integral role on the team this year.  Wilson has been mentioned repeatedly for his solid defense, especially at the Oakland Mills game when he had to guard Mamadou Ndiaye.  Geist was hurt at the start of the season, but since his return, he has been all over the boards.  Clemens has been known to sink clutch shots, and of course, Strothers and White are some of the leading scorers in the county.

However, the race does not stop with the county championship title.  The Eagles are scheduled to play the winner of the Poly-Long Reach match up on March 3.

“We’re fortunate in that for every game we win, we are guaranteed a game here [at Centennial].  We put ourselves in a good spot,” said Hollwedel.  “Of course, our goal is to play the last game of the season.”

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Basketball Faces Oakland Mills

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.