Centennial is too quick man for man for Bears

February 07, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Most of Centennial's opponents underestimate the Eagles' quickness.

That quickness, five three-point baskets and Centennial's ability to create turnovers combined to defeat No. 12 Hammond, 43-40, yesterday in a showdown of the Howard County league's two first-place teams.

"I didn't realize they were that quick," Hammond coach Mike Mongelli said. "They are quicker than quick, and when we played them man-for-man that created some poor matchups for us."

Mongelli pointed to Centennial's Matt Laycock and Denny Chapman as players who were one step too fast for the Bears.

But Hammond, playing at home, certainly appeared to have the game under control in the first half.

Centennial (12-3 overall, 7-1 league) made only one of its first nine shots against a tenacious Hammond defense and trailed 8-2 after one period. The Eagles made four of their last six shots in the second quarter to trail 22-13 at halftime.

Laycock (12 points, 11 rebounds) sank an important three-pointer just before the half ended.

"I knew the game would come down to the end because we match up well with this team," Laycock said. "We just played smarter in the second half and didn't make mistakes."

The Eagles also worked much harder, running their motion offense and patiently waiting for open shots.

Brian Otten (11 points, three rebounds) sank two three-pointers in the third quarter, and Chapman (nine points) scored six points that quarter to rally the Eagles to within three, 32-29.

Chapman's three-pointer gave Centennial its first lead of the game, 34-32, with 6:56 to play.

Hammond (12-4, 6-2) made nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, four in the first 1:13. The Bears made 23 turnovers overall.

Centennial momentarily hurt itself at the foul line when Aaron Williams (five points, five rebounds) missed two free throws and Laycock missed a one-and- one.

But Williams made up for it by sinking a three-pointer for a 37-36 Centennial lead with 3:21 left to play.

Hammond continued to have problems with its inbounds passes, turning it over three times.

But Tim Spruill's two free throws for Hammond tied it at 40 with 30 seconds left to play. Hammond was 12-for-13 at the line.

Scott Bross made one free throw with 29 seconds left for a 41-40 Centennial lead, and the jump ball that followed his miss went to Hammond.

But the Bears failed to convert when Mike Bright, who was then 4-for-4 at the line, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and an ensuing jump ball went to Centennial.

Otten made two free throws for a 43-40 lead.

A turnover out of bounds at half-court with one second left gave Hammond a last shot, and Bright sank a half-court bank shot.

"I told our guys to shoot the shots they like, and they aren't bashful about shooting three-pointers," Centennial coach Jim Hill said.

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