Things started well for the Century High boys’ basketball team Tuesday night. The No. 14 Knights were hitting their outside shots and keeping visiting Oakland Mills out of the paint.
But the Scorpions surged back in the second half. The No. 14 Knights grinded through a tough final eight minutes to take a 49-44 decision in a Class 2A West Region Section II semifinal.
“I’m proud of these guys after being off for two weeks. It’s hard to do that and get right back into a pretty intense game, against a very good basketball team,” said Century coach George Wunder. “But like we’ve done all year, we just kind of found a way. Found a way to win.”
The Carroll County champ Knights (20-2 overall) will meet league rival Liberty in the section final Thursday. Liberty outlasted Francis Scott Key in four overtimes Tuesday.
Century had to fend off Oakland Mills (8-16), which used a zone defense to forge a 24-24 tie. The Knights seemed puzzled by where to go with the ball, constantly just swinging it around the perimeter and not making shots when they did take them. But the Knights had Zach Tucker.
Tucker led the Knights with a game-high 21 points. After taking a hard fall in the third quarter, he had several crucial plays in the fourth quarter.
With the Knights grasping to a 33-32 lead, Tucker caught a pass from Chris Norman and drilled a 3-pointer from the corner right in front of the student section which lead to a raucous cheer. A few minutes later, with Century still clinging to a small lead, Tucker fired a pass between multiple Oakland Mill defenders through the paint and right in to the hands of Ashley Roberts, who converted the basket for his only score of the contest.
“In the playoffs you just have to have good defense. Out shots weren’t falling, we scored like 50 points and that is low for us. We played phenomenal defense,” Tucker said. “We held them in the 40s and that’s really good defense. We got some stops and that gets the crowd into the game.”
Norman finished with 18 points for Century, hitting couple of crucial free throws. Deshawn Eaton had 16 points, including a couple NBA-range 3-pointers for Oakland Mills, which couldn’t get key stops late. It’s a rare early postseason exit for the Scorpions, who won the state 2A title in 2015.
The Knights, whose only state final four appearance came in 2009, will face its Eldersburg rival next in Liberty. Century handled Liberty in two meetings during the regular season.
Tucker knows the postseason will be much different atmosphere.
“We have confidence with every single person on this coaching staff. The experience across the board, they put in so much effort,” Tucker said. “We feel like we are always ready, no matter who we are playing.”
Class 2A West Region Section II semifinal
No. 14 Century 49, Oakland Mills 44
Oakland Mills – Deshawn Eaton 16, Jordan Hopkins 10, Jordan Tarver 8, Ke’Von Simpson 6, Brian Wheelock 4. Totals 16 8-12 44.
Century – Zach Tucker 21, Chris Norman 18, Zach Owings 4, Adam Rolfes 4, Ashley Roberts 2. Totals 16 12-16 49.
Oakland Mills 4 11 15 14 – 44
Century 15 6 10 18 – 49