Long Reach comes from behind, tops defending champion Eagles Conwell, Smith, Green key factors in 64-57 win

December 20, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Long Reach is developing the reputation of being a second-half team.

Last night, the No. 18-ranked Lightning rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat two-time defending Howard County champion Centennial, 64-57.

"It could have gone either way," Long Reach coach Al Moraz said. "It was so close."

Freshman Brian O'Connor's three-point shot with 3: 35 left to play gave Centennial a 55-53 lead. But down the stretch, the Eagles (3-2 overall, 2-1 league) missed six straight free throws that cost them the game.

Shawn Green of Long Reach sank a crucial three-point basket, giving the Lightning a 59-55 lead with a minute to play.

"Free throws and turnovers were the name of the game," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "We lost our composure, and Long Reach played very well. We couldn't buy a basket in the fourth quarter."

Long Reach sophomore Irving Conwell scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds. Point guard Chris Smith added 15 points and seven assists, and Turon Kosh scored 12 points and had eight rebounds.

Conwell was particularly effective in sparking Long Reach's comeback in the third quarter, when the Lightning went on a 15-2 run, going from 36-27 down to 42-38 up.

In the first four minutes of that quarter, Conwell scored four points, had two rebounds, blocked a shot, made a steal and had an assist.

"Coach told us to go inside more in the second half," Conwell said. "Centennial was tougher than I expected. Andy McShane was tough and so was Keith Williams."

Conwell fouled out with two minutes to play, and three other Lightning starters -- Kosh, Green and White -- all had four fouls.

The Lightning (4-1, 3-0), a state Class 1A finalist last season in the school's first year and whose only loss this season was to Archbishop Spalding, normally plays a man-for-man defense.

"We had to go to a zone for a minute near the end to protect our guys, and they hit a three-pointer," Moraz said.

Centennial played a strong inside game during the first half, with McShane (17 points), Scott Bell (11 points) and Andres Conejo gaining the upper hand.

Conejo's all-around play made him a dominant factor in the second quarter, when he settled his team at point guard. Williams was Centennial's second-leading scorer with 14 points.

Pub Date: 12/20/97

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