Wilde Lake warms to Centennial task

Graham's 20 in 2nd half point Wildecats toward L. Reach rematch, 71-47

Class 3A East region boys basketball

March 03, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Wilde Lake's Brandon Graham was patient.

The Wildecats' leading scorer with a 16.8 average was held to one point in the first half last night.

But when the Wildecats went more up-tempo in the second half, Graham suddenly appeared everywhere, scoring 20 points and leading host Wilde Lake to a 71-47 Class 3A East region quarterfinal victory over Centennial.

"Brandon stayed aggressive offensively in the second half after not scoring much in the first half," said Wildecats coach Phil Chenier. "The up-tempo game is more his style."

Wilde Lake (18-5) travels to Long Reach for the semifinals tomorrow. Long Reach won two previous meetings of the teams - one of them in overtime.

"I knew that sooner or later my game would come," said Graham, who also had four assists and four steals. "I have to play big for the playoffs. In the first half their zone clogged the lane, and I was looking to pass to Kevin [Showe] because I knew he was hot."

Graham's points came off seven layups and seven free throws.

The game began as a sizzling three-point shooting contest between Showe and Centennial's Matt Skalka.

Showe, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, hit four threes and was 5-for-5 from the floor in his 14-point first quarter.

Skalka hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and two in the second quarter to keep the Eagles within 28-25 at halftime. He finished with 12 points and no other Eagle scored more than six.

Wilde Lake was 0-for-10 from the floor in the second quarter, after Centennial went to a box-and-one on Showe. "I was hot tonight," said Showe. "But no one can guard Brandon once he gets in his groove."

Wilde Lake turned on its press in the second half and Centennial came apart.

"Turnovers killed us and Graham killed us in transition," said Skalka. "We weren't confident with the ball and broke down mentally. They were quicker than us, and usually we make up for that by playing smarter. I couldn't get a shot in the second half."

Centennial made 27 turnovers, but still trailed just 39-36 midway through the third quarter. A 10-0 run by Wilde Lake blew it open 49-36 by the end of the quarter.

The Eagles (11-12), who had won eight of their past 10 games, tried to rally, but Showe's fifth three-pointer and a layup by Sean Howard finished the Eagles. Howard scored nine points and had seven rebounds.

It was Wilde Lake's third win over Centennial this season.

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