Centennial spanks Oakland Mills, 80-62 Williams scores 26 points to spark young Eagles


December 18, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

After graduating its top six players from a record-breaking jTC 22-1 team and winning back-to-back Howard County titles, the burning question this season was whether Centennial could field another contender.

The Eagles (3-1 overall, 2-0 league) provided the answer last night. They romped, 80-62, over an Oakland Mills team that expects to be in the thick of the county race.

Oakland Mills entered last night's game with a 1-2 overall and 1-0 league record. Both losses, however, were to quality teams, Loyola and Thomas Johnson, and neither defeat was by more than 10 points.

"I don't think we're 20 points better than Oakland Mills, and when we play over there it will probably be a much different game," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "This was by far the best game we've played. We came out with intensity from the beginning, maintained it, and played real team ball."

Keith Williams led the Eagles with 26 points, including nine in the first quarter when they sank their first five baskets and broke away to a 16-5 lead.

The Scorpions made a 10-2 run to cut Centennial's lead to 18-15, but Williams made a steal and layup off Centennial's half-court trap, and Andy McShane followed with a basket off another turnover to put Centennial ahead, 22-15.

The Scorpions never made another serious run. Centennial sank four straight free throws to end the first quarter to lead 26-17. They Eagles finished 20-for-28 at the foul line.

"We fouled too much, and they were better than we thought," said Murray Graves, Oakland Mills' leading scorer with 24 points. He had 10 rebounds.

Oakland Mills sank six three-point shots, including four by Kevin Madison (14 points), and lost for the sixth time in its last seven regular-season games at Centennial.

Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said his team didn't play defense or handle the ball well. The Scorpions committed 17 turnovers to Centennial's 10.

"This was our coming-together game," said Williams, who was able to penetrate almost at will. "It helps that people overlook us and think that it will be an easy game."

Another key player for Centennial was point guard Jamal Stevens, a junior who is eligible for the first time. His quickness and ball-handling were superlative, and he scored 12 points.

"After our first five shots, we knew it would be a game," Stevens said.

Andy McShane, who also scored 12 points for the Eagles, said that "we worked hard for our shots, made good cuts and shot for a high percentage. No one was giving us credit."

Centennial shot 51 percent (29-for-57) from the floor. Oakland Mills shot 36 percent (21-for-58).

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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