Centennial's fast start sinks Howard

January 30, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

This one was over before the Howard Lions could muster a growl.

Brian Hulka's 10 points and a harassing full-court press paced Centennial to a 14-2 lead in the opening minutes and positioned the No. 18 Eagles comfortably toward a 62-43 rout yesterday in a Howard County boys game.

The Eagles' early domination was a sign of things to come. Despite shooting 21 of 52, they broke the Lions' multiple zones with teamwork and a carefully orchestrated game plan. Host Centennial (11-3, 4-2) led by 13 points at halftime, 19 after three periods and as many as 25 early in the fourth.

Hulka, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, scored a game-high 25 points. Senior forward Damian Biggs, the Eagles' leading scorer, matched his average with 17 points.

Centennial's defense, either a 1-3-1 or 2-3 zone, was also exceptional. Howard (6-8, 3-3) shot 17 of 40 and committed 22 turnovers. And the Lions' leading scorers, forward Javier Michaux and center Dwight Case, together scored 17.

"We got out-hustled," Howard coach Kevin Broadus said. "They played an excellent game tonight."

Senior guards Mark James and Mark Lee, with Hulka and Biggs, controlled Centennial's offense. Hulka hit four three-pointers and the Eagles shot 16 of 17 from the line.

"This was the best we've played all season in terms of fewest numberof turnovers and accuracy of shooting," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "I don't think I've seen us shoot that well from the floor in awhile. Howard is a very good team, but tonight we were able to take them out of their [offensive] game in terms of outside shooting."

After Centennial opened with its 12-point cushion, the Lions cracked the press three times, closing the gap to 19-8 on Michaux's bucket. That's the closest they came.

Michaux's basket 1:47 into the second period created a 27-14 game but triggered a strange sequence before halftime. As James dribbled upcourt, Hill instructed him to hold it in an attempt to force Howard out of its zone. The Lions, however, remained in a zone and, with James cradling the ball as the clock ticked, Centennial stalled for six minutes -- or the half's remainder.

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