Centennial outplayed Wilde Lake for more than three quarters yesterday, but the visiting Eagles needed an overtime period to erase a comeback by Wilde Lake and escape with a 71-65 victory.
The 17th-ranked Eagles (8-2, 1-1) trailed briefly in overtime, when Seth Willingham hit a three-pointer to give Wilde Lake a 65-64 lead, the Wildecats' first advantage since late in the first quarter. But Centennial regrouped to score the game's last seven points and hand Wilde Lake (3-5, 0-2) its second consecutive overtime defeat at home.
Seann Jones led Centennial with 26 points and eight rebounds, including a 10-for-12 performance at the foul line. Damian Biggs had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Brian Hulka added 10 points.
The Eagles overcame a strong effort by Wilde Lake forward Deon Wingfield. He scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds -- both team highs -- but it was Wingfield's 12 fourth-quarter points that brought Wilde Lake back from what looked like defeat.
Centennial was cruising along with a 56-44 lead with 5:30 left in the game, when Wingfield took over. Sparked by their full-court press, the Wildecats went on an 18-6 run to tie the game at the end of the regulation. Wingfield scored 10 of those points, including the final eight, most of them following offensive rebounds. His bank shot tied the score at 62 with three seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
"Winning over here is always a dogfight. They scrap, they go to the boards, they come after you," said Centennial coach Jim Hill, whose Eagles dropped a 62-60 heartbreaker to Mount Hebron Friday on a last-second shot by the Vikings.
"We might as well be 0-50 [in the county] if we lose this one," Hill added. "This tells me my kids have some heart and character."
Ramone Myers scored 14 points for Wilde Lake. Willingham, who entered the game averaging a team-high 19 points a game, struggled offensively. He scored seven points before fouling out in the game's final seconds.
Centennial won the game with great foul shooting as well as poise. The Eagles, who entered the contest shooting 73 percent at the line, matched that with a 27-for-37 day. Wilde Lake made only nine of 15 free throws.
The Eagles nearly lost a game they had in their back pockets. For three periods, they out-passed, out-hustled and outsmarted the Wildecats, and at the beginning of the fourth period, Jones hit two foul shots to give Centennial a 52-38 advantage. The Wildecats ran off six unanswered points to close the gap to 52-44, but Jones' layup pushed the lead back to 56-44 with 5:33 left.
For the rest of regulation, Centennial managed just six points -- all at the foul line -- while the Wildecats charged back behind Wingfield.
Willingham gave the Wildecats their final lead 30 seconds into overtime. Biggs then hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to give the Eagles the lead, 66-65, and Centennial never trailed again.