Centennial stays alive, tops Howard, 77-66 Eagles' title hopes come down to finale

February 24, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

The first half of the Centennial boys basketball team's assignment is complete.

Coming off a one-point upset loss to Hammond on Friday, the No. 19 Eagles faced "two one-game seasons," as coach Jim Hill put it, in their quest to capture the Howard County title. Yesterday, on the road, Centennial topped Howard, 77-66.

The Eagles will host Glenelg in the second phase tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) to conclude the regular season.

"We had to win tonight," Hill said, "and with any luck at all we'll win the county. We need to play very steady basketball against Glenelg."

The Eagles can't win the title outright, but a Centennial win coupled with a Hammond loss against Howard tomorrow would give Centennial a share of the county title with Hammond.

Centennial (16-5, 9-4), which led nearly the entire game, was led by senior forwards Brian Hulka (23 points) and Damian Biggs (19). Howard's Javier Michaux, a junior foward, scored 19 points, but none in the fourth period.

In fact, the final quarter is when Howard (8-13, 5-8) nearly became a spoiler. Trailing 56-47 after three periods, the Lions opened with a 9-4 run, capped by forward Jeremy Milam's three-point play, for a 60-56 game with 4:40 remaining.

That's the closest Howard came, however. The Eagles pulled away, as Hulka scored six points in a game-ending 17-10 Centennial run.

"We know that Howard is very athletic and can be very tough," Hill said. "I was concerned about this being a home game for Howard. I just felt they played very well at home and I knew this could be a very difficult situation."

It wasn't simple for Centennial.

Guard Jevon Michaux's basket put Howard ahead 5-4, its only lead of the game. With three straight points, Centennial recaptured the edge. But Howard tied the game three times before the Eagles closed the first-quarter ahead, 15-13.

The Lions tied the score twice early in the second period. But Biggs, who scored six first-quarter points, duplicated that figure before halftime to help Centennial build a 36-28 lead.

The third period went back and forth. The Eagles opened with an 8-0 run for a 44-28 advantage. Howard responded with a 14-2 spurt, converting seven straight shots, to close to 46-42 with 4:03 left. Javier Michaux scored five points in the run, and recorded nine for the quarter. Centennial ended the period with a 10-5 burst to lead 56-47.

"They did a good job on the boards and made life miserable for us," Hill said. "But guys like Dave Hudson, Curt Weitzel and Brett Berkeley made a real difference for us coming off the bench. They provided a spurt of offense and and excellent job playing defense on Javier Michaux."

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