Centennial boys escape, school heads to 1st state title game

Eagles win, 56-54, after Rebels miss 2 chances from in close to take lead in final seconds

Milford Mill awaits in Saturday's championship

March 10, 2011|By Todd Karpovich, Special to The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — After Keonte Potts gave Centennial a one-point lead with 18.6 seconds left in the Thursday's Class 3A state semifinal against South Hagerstown, the Eagles stayed within a few inches of their opponent on the next possession, unwilling to let their dream season escape at the final buzzer.

The Rebels' Darico Provitt and Sean Prather each had opportunities directly under the basket to get the game-winner, but their shots clanked off the rim and finally landed in the hands of Centennial's Aaron Adams, who was immediately fouled. Adams then made one of two free throws, sealing a 56-54 victory at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center.

Centennial advanced to the first state title game in school history and will play Milford Mill on Saturday at 3 p.m. Adams led the Eagles with 19 points, and Potts made four of five 3-pointers to finish with 18 points.

"I'm not sure what to say. It's been an incredible ride," Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel said. "We somehow find a way, whether it's a free throw or a rebound after seven misses. I'm just really so proud of the kids' individual efforts and the team effort."

South Hagerstown (21-4), which has appeared in 11 state tournaments, won its only state title in 1974. However, it was the Eagles (20-6) who looked like the more tournament-savvy team in the early part of the game.

Adams scored 12 points by scrapping under the basket, and Centennial led 26-20 at the break. South Hagerstown then took control in the third quarter, finishing easy baskets inside the paint, and tied the game at 30 with 3:35 remaining.

"We just came close as a team, and now we're getting the reward," Adams said. "We're playing in the state championship, and we're one of the best teams in the state. It's an amazing feeling right now."

The Eagles regrouped, and a pair of free throws by Adams and a 3-pointer by Potts provided a 39-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter. South Hagerstown eventually tied the game at 49 on a tip by Provitt (14 points). The teams traded baskets down the stretch to set up the dramatic finish.

"I guess that's what they mean when they say the ball just didn't bounce your way," South Hagerstown coach Kevin Naylor said. "Nothing went our way."

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