Atholton, Centennial share title

February 21, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Atholton forced a Cinderella Centennial team to reluctantly give up one of its glass slippers yesterday.

After digging itself a hole, Atholton popped out of it in the fourth quarter to earn a county co-championship with the Eagles.

It was a championship three-peat for the Raiders, and Centennial's second co-championship in four seasons.

No. 20 Atholton (14-6 overall, 11-3 league) defeated the 19th-ranked Eagles, 61-57, by outscoring them in the fourth quarter, 24-14.

Atholton, picked in the preseason as co-favorites with Oakland Mills, had beaten Centennial (16-5, 11-3) in another close game earlier this season. But the Raiders suffered unexpected losses to Mount Hebron, Wilde Lake and Hammond that ultimately cost them an outright title.

"We just picked up our defense in the fourth quarter," said Atholton guard Tyrone Allmond who averages 15.4 points and scored 16 yesterday -- 10 of them in the fourth period.

Atholton trailed, 43-37, after three periods at Centennial, but sank its first five shots of the fourth quarter. For the period, Atholton made nine of 12, and for the game, 22 of 40. Centennial made 22 of 47 shots from the floor.

Atholton's Matt Hahn (11 points, four rebounds) made two key rebounds and scored on a drive in the fourth quarter.

"We have too much pride to let a piece of the county title slip through our hands, so we stepped it up in the fourth quarter," Hahn said.

Centennial's Denny Chapman (13 points) sank four three-pointers -- three of them in the fourth period -- to keep the game close.

His three-pointer with 1:54 to play cut Atholton's lead to 56-54. He sank a three-pointer with five seconds left that made it 58-57.

But Centennial center Matt Laycock (15 points, eight rebounds) was called for an intentional foul with two seconds left, and Allmond sank two free throws.

Laycock played only about 20 minutes because of foul trouble.

Without Laycock, Atholton was able to go to center Nat Watkins (16 points, six rebounds).

Centennial's Brian Otten (12 points) scored eight points in the third quarter when Centennial outscored Atholton, 18-11.

"Atholton made their shots in the clutch and played good defense to prevent us from getting ours," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "For a team that was picked sixth in preseason we feel happy with a tie for first place. Atholton played well, and I always considered them the team to beat this season."

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