Bench brings Long Reach back against Centennial

Down 13 early, Lightning wins going away, 61-54

Boys basketball

February 03, 2000|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With his boys basketball team in danger of getting blown out of its own gym in the early stages last night against Centennial, Long Reach coach Al Moraz turned to his backup plan.

Quite literally.

Subbing his starters, Moraz saw his Lightning get 18 points from reserve guard Ansen Jones, rally from an early 13-point deficit, and hold off the Eagles, 61-54, in a key Howard County League game.

"Our second team won us this game," said Moraz. "That was the game plan -- to play 10 people. When I brought in that second team, they brought us back to an even game, almost, at halftime."

With the win, Long Reach (10-5 overall, 8-3 county) pulled even with Centennial (10-5, 8-3) for second place in the county behind Wilde Lake, which improved to 9-2 by defeating River Hill.

"I was worried, but it seems we always wait until the second half to start playing our game," said Jones.

After falling behind 19-6, this game was an uphill climb for the Lightning. Turning up the intensity of its full-court press, Long Reach took command, creating turnovers, forcing poor shots and outscoring the Eagles 39-14 over the next 17: 30.

Jones, who had been struggling with his shooting touch, was the catalyst, scoring nine points in a four-minute span to help Long Reach cut its deficit to a point at halftime.

Centennial, meanwhile, went ice cold. After hitting 10 of its first 17 shots, the Eagles shot just 28 percent the rest of the game, making 20 turnovers in the final three quarters.

"We have three or four different presses we like to throw on people, and it upset them," said Moraz.

Trailing 47-35 midway through the fourth quarter, however, Centennial fought back with a 12-2 run -- capped by Brian O'Connor's three-pointer -- to make it 49-47 with 2: 09 left.

But that was as close as it would get, as Long Reach made eight of nine foul shots in the final two minutes to seal the win.

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