Championship tops Hulka's season Centennial senior catches fire during title drive

February 28, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Brian Hulka, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, isn't the quickest, most athletic player in the county, but he contributed significantly to Centennial's first county basketball co-championship since the school opened in 1977.

He is second on the Eagles in scoring and rebounding, averaging 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, after playing as a

reserve last season. And he scored in double figures in 12 of 14 league games.

An accurate free-throw shooter, Hulka also has a nice touch from three-point range.

The Eagles (17-5, 10-4) chased the county title down to the last league game and came up with a co-championship with Hammond. The Eagles defeated Glenelg and got some help from Howard, which upset Hammond, 67-63, on Thursday.

DTC Hulka saved his best efforts for the regular season's final week.

He scored 23 points, including nine of 10 free throws, and had 11 rebounds in a 77-66 victory over Howard.

Then he scored a career-high 29 points and had nine rebounds in the 72-65 win over Glenelg. Both were must-wins for the Eagles.

"He's not flashy but makes the most of his talent," Glenelg coach Terry Coleman said. "When you guard him man-for-man he can drive. He was the difference in the game [Thursday]."

He was especially effective against Howard this season.

In Centennial's first win over the Lions, Hulka scored 25 points, hit four three-pointers and shot 9-for-10 at the foul line. Overall thisseason, he was 18-for-20 at the line against Howard, which beat every contender but Centennial.

"He can really shoot the ball, especially threes," Howard coach Kevin Broadus said. "He also hustles and moves well without the ball."

Another big day for Hulka was a 23-point performance in a 53-50 overtime victory at Oakland Mills.

Hulka kept Centennial from getting blown out in the first half, scoring 17 of the Eagles' 28 points.

In another outstanding effort, he scored 17 and sank three crucial free throws that tied the game near the end of an eventual 62-60 loss to Mount Hebron early in the season.

The Vikings won on a last-second, 17-foot bank shot.

Hulka led all scorers in Centennial's 78-59 victory over Wilde Lake Feb. 10.

He's not someone to foul late in a game, because he's 54 for 67 (81 percent) from the foul line.

And, if not guarded closely, he'll slip behind the three-point line and score. His 29 three-pointers put him among the league leaders.

"Brian is a deceiving player," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "His passing will surprise you. He looks slow, but that first two or three steps are quick. And he takes long strides on his drive."

Driving to the basket is one thing Hulka said he doesn't do enough. That may be why he hasn't gone to the foul line more.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Hulka played in the Howard County Youth Program, the Catholic Youth League, the Beltway League and the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League.

He attended the Mason-Dixon summer camp for two years and the Syracuse University summer camp for two years. Last summer, he made the Syracuse camp's all-star team.

This season has been satisfying for him.

"It's been about what I expected, although there have been some tough losses I wish we could play over," he said.

They include two one-point losses to Hammond, a two-point loss to Mount Hebron and a three-point loss to Thomas Johnson.

"It's been fun, and that's all that matters," he said.

Hulka doesn't plan to play basketball in college. He is considering attending Maryland, Delaware or North Carolina State and major in business.

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