COLLEGE PARK — — Milford Mill held Centennial to just a single field goal in the first quarter of Saturday's Class 3A state championship game, flexing its muscle as the defending champion against an opponent playing on the big stage for the first time.
The Eagles eventually settled down and were within five at the break, but third-ranked Milford Mill controlled the second half and never trailed in the 56-44 victory at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center. Tevin Hanner led Milford Mill with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
"We set expectations and goals at the beginning of the season and we were able to achieve them," Milford Mill coach Albert Holley said. "Last year, we were sort of underdogs and weren't expected to be here. The expectations changed this year and we were more of the favorite than the underdogs, so there was a lot of pressure."
Matt Harbinson and Keonte Potts each had 11 points for Centennial and Mike Stefan added 10. The Eagles were just 15 of 58 (25.9 percent) from the field, including three of 20 from 3-point range.
Milford Mill (25-2), which now has five state titles, took control early behind Hanner's nine points and led 13-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Eagles (20-7) began to chip away, and a 3-pointer by Stefan with 20 seconds remaining cut the margin to 21-16 at the half.
"I wanted to bring a lot of energy to start out," Hanner said. "I usually try to get my teammates more involved, but I wanted to force the issue tonight. The process was to let my teammates score later on."
Milford Mill regained the momentum in the third quarter, and five consecutive points by Katrell Myers increased the lead to 34-23, with two minutes left. Potts later ran the court for a layup and cut the lead to 10 heading into the final quarter.
"It was just hard-work paying off every single day, every single practice and when we're in the classroom," Milford Mill's top guard, Isaiah McCray, said. "It just feels amazing. It's a storybook-written end."
With the state title in their grasp, the Millers continued to keep the game out of reach. A layup by Myers with six minutes remaining increased the lead to 43-28. Centennial never threatened the rest of the way.
The Eagles cleared the bench in the final minute, and after the game, filed into the stands to shake hands with their classmates.
"We were not shooting well as a team going into the half," Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel said. "We knew we were a better shooting team than what we shot in the first half. We felt as poorly as we had played on the offensive end and be down five points at the half was outstanding for us."
Class 3A State Championship
No. 3 Milford Mill 56, Centennial 44
C – Potts 11, Adams 7, Stefan 10, Harbinson 11, Ocadiz 5.
Totals: 15 11-15 44
MM – Cormier 4, Jackson 2, Hanner 19, McCray 6, Miller 8, Myers 9, Parker 3, Lee 1, Williams 2, Heard 2.