River Hill tightens race, topples Centennial, 39-34

McCathorine's defense, late offense buoys Hawks

Boys basketball

February 12, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill tightened up an almost gridlocked, six-team Howard County title race in boys basketball by knocking off league-leading Centennial last night, 39-34.

The loss dropped Centennial (13-6 overall, 11-4 league) into a first-place tie with Oakland Mills with three games left to play. Long Reach, River Hill, Wilde Lake and Hammond are one game back at 10-5.

The Hawks, who trailed 22-15 at halftime, held Centennial to just 12 points in the second half and four points in the last quarter.

It was the first boys basketball victory over neighboring Centennial in River Hill's four-year history. The Hawks (10-9, 10-5) entered this season with a 19-49 overall basketball record.

"We were 0-7 against them," said senior guard Matt McCathorine, whose play down the stretch made the difference for the Hawks. He scored six of River Hill's final eight points.

With Centennial leading 32-31 on its home floor and 3: 03 left, McCathorine stole the ball and scored on a layup.

Tyler Enstice answered for Centennial, making it 34-33 with 2: 40 left. Then, McCathorine sank a three-point basket with 1: 18 left that put the Hawks on top to stay, 36-34. A McCathorine free throw with 55 seconds left made it 37-34. He pulled down a defensive rebound with 19 seconds left.

Centennial still had a life with 16 seconds left after Alex Dummett missed the front end of back-to-back one-and-ones. But the Eagles could not score, and the Hawks' Dyami Jenkins sank two free throws with two seconds left.

"Our plan was to be patient and get it inside as much as possible against their packed-in, 2-3 zone," McCathorine said. "We wanted to put pressure on their guards and shut down [Scott Kincaid]."

Kincaid scored 20 points in Centennial's previous game. Defensed by McCathorine, Kincaid had just three points last night.

River Hill's switch from a 2-3 zone to man-for-man defense in the second half paid off. After five first-half turnovers, the Eagles committed 15 in the second half.

River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen started Arin Gelletly last night, and he scored a game-high 12 points, nine in the third period, when the Hawks erased Centennial's lead.

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