Damian Biggs' sharpshooting led Centennial to a remarkable comeback victory Thursday night over county basketball champion Oakland Mills.
Trailing by 18 points with only two minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles rallied to win, 80-71. Both teams are seeded second in their classes as regional tournaments begin tomorrow.
It was the Eagles' first victory over Oakland Mills in Coach Jim Hill's eight years at Centennial. The victory was especially sweet since former players were on hand for the home game.
"The wood ghosts were kind to us tonight," Biggs said, referring to former Centennial players. "This was for all the guys who hustled their butts off before us but lost (to Oakland Mills)."
Biggs scored 35 points in thegame, 21 of them during the rally.
Two other players were keys tothe turnaround. The quickness of Todd Downen and Mark Lee, defensivesubstitutes at guard, pressured Oakland Mills into turnovers and missed shots during the game's final quarter.
The Scorpions shot 41 percent (28 for 68) for the game, but made only four of 15 shots in the fourth period. They also committed 10 second-half turnovers, most of them as Centennial was launching its comeback.
Downen, who scored 10 of his 12 points during the rally, began it with a three-point shot. It started a 14-0 run by Centennial that pulled the Eagles within four points, 59-55, early in the fourth quarter.
"Todd Downen and Mark Lee played defense out of their heads," Hill said. "We went tothe boards like never before. And Biggs played the game of his life."
Oakland Mills' Gregg Washington (25 points) and John Hilliard (23 points) tried to turn back Centennial's onslaught. The two scored all 12 Oakland Mills points in the fourth quarter. A three-point play by Hilliard rebuilt Oakland Mills' lead to seven points, 64-57.
But Biggs put in a rebound, Oakland Mills made another turnover and Biggs sank two free throws, closing the lead to three points.
OaklandMills then missed four shots on the same possession, and Downen popped in a three-pointer to tie the game.
A three-pointer by Biggs brought Centennial into the lead 67-66, and the team did not relinquishit again.
"We're just a bunch of ordinary guys who, if we put ourminds to it, can win," Biggs said. "We adapt to situations, look formismatches, and if one of us is shooting hot, we let him run his string. And the bench roots hard for us."
The Eagles got a big game from sophomore guard Seann Jones (nine points), who started in place of injured Keith Krider. Centennial also was missing injured starting center Chris Bosley. Brian Reid (seven points) started in his place.
By winning the final regular-season game, Centennial (14-8 overall, 8-6 league) finished third in the league. As the No. 2 seed, the Eagles have a first-round bye in the Class 3A, Region 3 playoffs that start tomorrow. Centennial's first game will be Thursday at home.
Oakland Mills (16-6 overall, 12-2 league) also is second-seeded in theClass 2A, Region 2 playoffs and has an opening-round bye tomorrow.
It was Centennial's second remarkable win of the week. On Tuesday, the Eagles trailed Hammond by four points with 20 seconds to play, yet won the game, 67-66.
But Thursday's game was special -- it was seniors night and former players were on hand. During pregame ceremonies, they begged the team for a victory over Oakland Mills.
Before the game, the senior players were introduced under spotlights in a darkened gym to the sounds of Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."
"That title epitomizes us," Hill said. "We're not real talented, but we never stop hustling. When we were 18 down, I still believed we could win. They taught me never to doubt them. They constantly amaze me."