2nd-half rally takes Centennial to title Eagles erase 12-point halftime deficit to score 40-38 win over Hammond

Boys basketball

February 14, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Fifth-ranked Centennial remained unbeaten (20-0 overall, 16-0 league) and won the county championship with a comeback victory over Hammond yesterday, 40-38.

Hammond had a chance to tie on an inbounds play under its basket with two seconds left, but Centennial's Chip Harrison made a game-saving steal -- his fourth of the second half.

"I couldn't do it offensively today, so I worked extra hard on the defensive side," said Harrison, who went scoreless.

On the previous play, the Eagles' Denny Chapman (10 points) blocked a shot out of bounds, despite playing on an untaped ankle that he sprained in the fourth quarter, and with a suspected fractured index finger on his left hand.

The Eagles now have won three of the last five county titles, including a co-championship with Atholton last season.

This county championship is Centennial's first outright in school history.

Second-place Hammond (13-7, 12-4) outplayed the visiting Eagles in the first half and led, 26-14, at the break. The Bears' strong defense allowed Centennial's offense to make just six of 22 shots from the floor that half, and the Bears out-rebounded the Eagles, 12-5.

Jason Boyd came off the bench to spark the Bears with seven points late in the second period.

Centennial was playing without leading scorer and rebounder Matt Laycock, who is in San Diego at a U.S. national under-18 soccer team tryout.

"We were definitely worried at the half, but we told ourselves that we were down 11 at halftime here last season and won," said Brian Otten, who scored Centennial's final three points on free throws.

Centennial's defense saved the day. It created seven Hammond turnovers in the third period, including two steals apiece by Harrison and Scott Bross. Both of Harrison's steals led to layups.

A three-point shot by Aaron Williams at the third-period buzzer left Centennial trailing only 36-34. Williams scored eight of his game-high 13 points in the third quarter.

Williams' basket to open the fourth quarter tied the game at 36 with 7: 20 to play.

Hammond then sat back in a 2-3 zone defense most of the quarter, and Centennial held the ball most of the quarter.

Williams sank a free throw with 2: 11 left for Centennial's first lead, 37-36.

Williams made a steal with 36 seconds left, and Otten sank two free throws for a 39-36 Centennial lead. The clock showed 27 seconds.

Boyd scored a base-line jumper with 16 seconds left, but Otten made a free throw with 14 seconds left for a 40-38 Eagles lead.

Pub Date: 2/14/97

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