Atholton remains in the hunt with 79-58 win over Centennial

February 20, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Atholton was a team at the crossroads yesterday afternoon against Centennial. After winning 10 of their first 12 games, the Raiders lost four of six, including a crucial game to Mount Hebron Friday night.

The Raiders (13-6, 7-4) needed to dig deep and beat Centennial in a battle of second-place teams. And they did, 79-58, to remain one game behind league-leading Wilde Lake, a team the Raiders face Tuesday.

But the victory didn't come easily. A game, but weary-looking, Centennial squad that had beaten Howard the night before stayed with the much deeper Raiders until it fell apart midway through the third quarter.

"We were exhausted in the locker room at halftime," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "Howard ran us to death the night before and we had nothing left."

Centennial had trailed 16-9 after the first quarter, in which the Eagles made nine turnovers. But they rallied to take a 29-26 halftime lead by playing the kind of defense that has made them the top defensive team in the league. Centennial allows opponents only 56 points per game.

But Centennial failed to handle Atholton's full-court press in the third quarter, making 11 turnovers, many of them on poor passes. Atholton converted Centennial's sloppiness into 29 third-quarter points.

Atholton led 40-37 when it broke the game open with a seven-point run in the third quarter.

Atholton's Tony Stewart (13 points) scored from the lane, and after a Centennial turnover, was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Atholton's D. J. Chiles, who led all scorers with 23 points, stole the ball and scored on a layup. And the Raiders scored again after another Centennial turnover to take a 47-37 lead.

"When we went to the full-court man-to-man defense, they didn't handle it well at all," Chiles said.

He got into early foul trouble and sat out a lot of the first half, but scored 15 points in the second half.

"Coach [Jim Albert] told us we haven't been playing with enough emotion and intensity lately, so we tried to improve on that today," Chiles said.

A little while after that Atholton run, the Eagles lost starting guard Kurt Weitzel, who was ejected for something he said to a referee. And Centennial did not stage another rally.

"We ran our half-court offense much better in the second half and that helped a lot," Albert said. "It's something we didn't do well against Mount Hebron."

Centennial (12-7, 6-5) sent Atholton to the foul line for 37 shots, and the Raiders sank 23 free throws.

Atholton's Nate Watkins (14 points) was 6-for-8 at the line and Ryan Rees (five points) was 5-for-6. Rees got a lot of playing time because starting guard Tyrone Allmond got into early foul trouble.

Dave Hudson scored 20 points and Will Latta 19 to lead Centennial.

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