Atholton downs error-prone Eagles Centennial, with a muff a minute, loses 3rd in row

January 08, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

As the game ended, a parent approached dejected Centennial coach Jim Hill, whose only comment came across quietly in a hoarse voice: "I'm embarrassed, I'm truly embarrassed."

This year has been been a humbling experience, one season removed since the Eagles compiled a perfect Howard County record and set the school record for victories. And Hill's patience got its most severe test last night, as Centennial committed 31 turnovers, handing host Atholton a 63-53 victory.

"We're very inexperienced," said Hill, who graduated six players from last season's 22-1 squad. "We're just learning the game. I told them it's time to get back to fundamentals and let them know if we don't box out Friday [at Wilde Lake], there'll be moves made."

Atholton (7-2, 4-1 in Howard County) scored 12 of the first 14 points in the third quarter to stretch a six-point halftime lead and maintained a double-digit margin for the rest of the game.

James Penamon scored 17 and Brian Boykins added 15 points and five blocks for the Raiders. Andy McShane had 23 points for Centennial (4-5, 2-3), which lost its third straight county game.

The Eagles never gained any offensive cohesiveness with such constant unforced errors as traveling, double-dribbling and wild passing. That's why Centennial ended up with more turnovers than shots made (19), averaging more than one mishap a minute.

And the Eagles couldn't afford playing sloppily against the athletic Raiders, who constantly jumped into the passing lanes to intercept passes and start their transition game. Atholton finished with 24 points off its fast break.

"That's the way we like to play," said Atholton coach Jim Albert, whose Raiders have beaten Centennial in seven out of the last nine meetings. "Turnovers just don't happen. Give the credit to our defense."

Atholton jumped out to an early 18-4 lead before McShane scored 10 in a 15-2 Centennial run to close the gap to 22-19 just two minutes into the second quarter. The Raiders again pulled away to a 36-27 advantage before McShane hit a running three-pointer at the halftime buzzer.

Centennial couldn't translate that into momentum, hitting only two field goals while turning the ball over nine times in the third quarter. Penamon, who single-handedly outscored the Eagles 9-7 in the third, stepped in front of a pass intended for McShane at the top of the key and ran it downcourt for a layup to put Atholton ahead, 43-30 with 4: 51 left in the third.

The Raiders built their largest lead at 55-37 early in the fourth, and Centennial dwindled it down with a game-ending 16-8 spurt.

"Coach made us think it was a harder team," Penamon said. "It wasn't that tough. We knew they were county champs, and we wanted to take it from them. It builds up our confidence."

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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