No. 11 Century withstands Central, advances to 2A state boys' basketball championship game; Tucker drops 34 (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE!!)
Century High boys' basketball coach George Wunder knew a run from Central could come at any point.
Leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter in Friday night's Class 2A state semifinal at University of Maryland's Xfinity Center, Century soon found out to advance to its first-ever championship game in school history, it had to hold off a furious comeback attempt from the Falcons of Prince George's County.
Anchored by senior guard Zach Tucker's game-high 34 points the Knights, survived the Falcons balanced four-guard attack with a 70-61 win to earn a berth to the 2A final to face second-ranked Patterson on Saturday night. Patterson defeated Harford Tech in the other 2A semifinal Friday eveing.
“We were kind of underestimated coming into this game,” said Tucker. “We were a team out of Carroll County and we had something to prove.”
Century (23-2 overall), which won its 21st straight game, made its first state tournament appearance in 2009 and is the first boys squad from Carroll County to reach a state final since Winters Mill in 2008.
Leading 25-23 at halftime, Century built a 47-27 lead with under two minutes remaining in the third, outscoring Central 22-7 in the frame.
However, in the fourth the Falcons, sparked by senior guards Trent Dixon (team-high 21 points) and Timothy Jones (18 points) began to chip away at the deficit with full court pressure and sliced the Knights lead to 60-57 with 1:44remaining in the game on an Angelo Isaac putback.
But Central did not get any closer as the Knights sealed the win with free throws, nailing 19 of 24 (79 percent) for the game.
“We played a great game defensively and battled all game long,” said Century head coach George Wunder. “First of all Central has a really talented team and have four guys that can put the ball on the floor and shoot it. We wanted to keep them out of the lane and limit their opportunities in transition as much as possible. We expected them to make a run, but our guys made plays down the stretch. We won a lot of these games all season, we know how to finish games.”
Tucker, who scored 25 second-half points, made 15 of 16 free throws and connected on three three-pointers to go along with five assists in the contest. Senior forward Chris Norman finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in regulation.
Junior Zach Owings and senior Adam Rolfes also contributed with 11 points each for Century.
Century picked Central's zone defense apart in the first quarter, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes and took an 18-7 advantage at the end of the quarter.
Century, which shot 22 for 38 (58 percent) for the game, shot 70 percent in the opening quarter, including 80 percent from three-point range, connecting on four or five attempts.
Unlike the Falcons it wasn't the start they were looking for as they went 3 of 9 from the field and had four turnovers in the first.
In the second quarter Century's lead grew to 22-8 after Tucker threw an alley-oop to Norman, who dunked the ball with two hands. However, Central managed to cut the margin to two points at the half by ending the quarter on a 15-3 run.
Dixon, Central's leading scorer scored five points during the run and had 12 points in the first half.
Senior Deonte Cooke, who finished with nine points, Dixon and Jones all fouled out in regulation for the Falcons.
Despite a huge comeback, Central (20-5), which made its first state tournament appearance since 2014 came up just short.
“I think we got down too fast, and we were scrambling to get back into the game,” said Central coach Lawrence Pugh. “We lost to a good team that played fundamental basketball and they moved the ball well. They couldn't miss in the first quarter they shot 80-percent from three.”
Class 2A state semifinal
at University of Maryland
No. 11 Century 70, Central 61
Central 7 16 7 22 - 61
Century 18 7 22 23 - 70
Central: Dixon 21, Jones 18, Cooke 9, Isaac 4, Shivers 4, Simmons 2, Wimbush 2, Brown 1
Century: Tucker 34, Rolfes 11, Owings 11, Norman 11, Perrone 3
Free throws: Central 8-16 (Jones 4-6, Dixon 3-4, Brown 1-2); Century 19-24 (Tucker 15-16, Rolfes 2-2)
3-point goals: Central 3 (Dixon 2, Cooke); Century 7 (Tucker 3, Rolfes 3, Perrone)
Last Updated (Monday, 13 March 2017 10:11)