When asked for a pregame scouting report on last night's opponent, Southern assistant coach Ted Gott answered, "Big. Good."
Central, indeed, was a big team, but Southern didn't allow the visiting Falconsto look very good.
While Southern shot with uncanny accuracy for much of the game, Central forced a pace too frantic even for the athletic Falcons, who bowed, 72-68, in the Class 2A Region III boys basketball quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs (14-9) travel to No. 1 Rockville of Montgomery County for a 7 p.m. semifinal game tomorrow. Central ends the year at 11-11.
With high-scoring senior Vince Barnett in the backcourt last season, the Bulldogs reached the semifinals before losing to Northeast.
Last night, it was junior forward Terell Jones and sophomore swingman Chatney Howard who delivered Southern to the next round.
Jones had 16 points at halftime and 29 overall, while Howard -- the county's fifth-leading scorer coming in at 18.9 points a game -- added 20.
William Allen led Central with 19 points, including 15 in the second half.
The Bulldogs shot 13-of-25 from the field in the first half in building a 31-25 lead over a Central team that had equal trouble handling and shooting the ball.
But Southern did all it could to keep the Falcons in the game, refusing to take time off the clock with an eight-point lead and just over four minutes remaining. The Falcons reluctantly took advantage, finally getting the lead down to two points, 68-66, with 44 seconds left.
Central's William Wright launched a 16-footer that bounced off the rim, and Howard grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with 27 seconds left. He sank both free throws, but then Allen answered with a baseline jumper to make it 70-68 with 19 seconds left.
Howard was fouled with seven seconds showing and again hit twice from the line. Central called a timeout, and Howard was mobbed by his teammates as he reached the bench.
"That's what I was waiting for -- crunch time," Howard said.
The celebrationmoved to center court when Allen missed a three-pointer and Southern's Kevin Mason grabbed the rebound at the buzzer.
Central stayed in front for most of the first quarter, but the lead changed hands seven times in the second quarter.
Curtis Holland scored from the outside with three minutes left in the half to give Southern a 24-23 lead, and the hosts stayed in front -- albeit precariously -- the rest of the way.