Eagles, Scorpions use different roads to reach same place: title contention

Star injured, Centennial's balance has it one win from county championship

Boys basketball

February 20, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Centennial expected to have one of the top boys basketball teams in Howard County this season, so it's no surprise that the Eagles are tied for first place and need only a victory over Oakland Mills Tuesday to secure their third county title in five seasons.

What is something of a surprise is that the Eagles have continued winning despite losing leading scorer Brian O'Connor to a season-ending eye injury. The Eagles have won three of four games since losing O'Connor, who was averaging 13.6 points.

"Every game since then it has been a different person to step up for us offensively," Eagles coach Jim Hill said.

Thursday it was David Paolisso scoring a career-high 17 points in a win over Howard. Tuesday, Pat McAfee scored a season-high 27 points in a comeback win over Wilde Lake, a team that had beaten the Eagles by 32 points earlier in the season.

Although he has players who probably could average 15 to 20 points per game, Hill's plan is to use a well-balanced, deep team to force Centennial's opponent to stop multiple scorers, not just one. The Eagles run either a motion offense or a triangle.

Defensively, the Eagles play a 2-3 zone but also have shown a box-and-one and a 1-3-1.

They are somewhat young, playing seven juniors mixed with five seniors.

Scott Kincaid has filled much of the offensive gap created by O'Connor's absence. The 6-foot-1 junior guard scored 22 points against Wilde Lake and 20 points against Glenelg. "Scott handles the ball well and knows the game," Hill said.

Junior Anthony McPhail is only 6-0, but is a great leaper and one of the team's best rebounders and shot blockers. Junior Brian Neidig injects a physical style into the lineup and the 6-1 guard is a good left-handed shooter. Kevin Laycock, a 6-2 junior forward, is the team's best defensive player and is solid in all aspects.

Phil Kiracofe, a 6-0 senior forward, is a sparkplug type player. "He's the soul of the team," Hill said. "He's emotionally intense and hates to lose."

Tyler Enstice, a 6-1 junior guard, is an unselfish player who sees the floor well and plays good defense.

Kirk Tyree, a 6-6 senior center who comes off the bench for McAfee, is an outstanding free-throw shooter and leads the team in blocked shots.

Ryan Myers is a 6-3 senior who is a good shot-blocker and can shoot from outside.

David Lee is a 6-2 junior center who is a good rebounder and inside defender.

"We like to keep our players' legs fresh so that we can win at the end," said Hill. "Wilde Lake's David Martin [the county's top scorer] scored only two points against us in the second half. He wore out."

The Eagles hope that strategy is effective against an Oakland Mills team that is down to just eight players.

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