Earlier this season, the Oakland Mills boys basketball team needed a late comeback, after trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, to upend Centennial, 61-58, on the road.
On Tuesday evening, the No. 6 Scorpions watched as Centennial erased a 14-point halftime deficit and took a three-point lead with four minutes left. But Oakland Mills used another late rally, making some key free-throws down the stretch, to again escape the Eagles with a 62-55 home victory.
“We could have [folded] and we tried, I thought, for a little while. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do,” said Scorpions coach Jon Browne. “We got a little shell-shocked and my hat’s off to Centennial…They were getting demolished in the first half and made some adjustments and said ‘we’re not going away.’”
Oakland Mills remains perfect on the season, running its win-streak to 19 consecutive games and improving to 16-0 in the Howard County league.
Senior forward Greg Whittington scored a team-high 21 points for the Scorpions. James Peters added 17 points, while Nick Zayatz had 10.
Centennial, which had an 11-game winning streak broken, got a game-high 22 points from senior Aaron Adams. Adams scored 13 second-half points to help lead the Eagles’ resurgence. Keonte Potts added 13 for the Ellicott City school.
Whittington and Oakland Mills had their way with Centennial in the first half, outscoring the Eagles 20-5 in the first eight minutes and holding onto a 33-19 advantage at the half.
Centennial made some adjustments at halftime and came out like a team on a mission. Behind a couple of three-pointers by Adams and a score by Potts, the Eagles cut their deficit to 33-27 early in the third quarter.
After a pull-up jumper by Timi Tinuoye and a three by Potts, Centennial climbed to within two points before Whittington drove to the basket and gave the Scorpions a 38-34 lead entering the fourth quarter.
A 6-0 run to start the final period that included points by Adams, Potts and Matt Harbinson gave the Eagles a 40-38 lead.
“At halftime, we just talked about the things that got us here. Giving up an 18-2 [run] in the first quarter was not our style or our game. We’re better than that,” said Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel. “We just refocused and changed the defense a little bit.”
Later, after the two rivals traded buckets, Adams scored inside to give Centennial a 45-43 lead with 4:31 remaining.
But Oakland Mills answered the Eagles’ charge.
Whittington, playing in front of scouts from Maryland and Oklahoma, followed a missed shot with a tip-in and after a layup by teammate Joe Kiely, stole a pass, finished a layup and was fouled to open the Scorpions’ lead back to five points.
“I just tried to play my game, I don’t really think about who’s coming,” said Whittington of the college scouts in attendance. “As a team, we always talk about resilience and never giving up. So we just had to work harder, hit more shots and play better on defense.”
Oakland Mills went 10-for-16 from the charity stripe in the last two minutes to hold off Centennial.
“[Centennial] came back and took the lead on us. That is adversity and we could have taken that one of two ways. A losing team would have found a way to lose that game but a winning team of 19 straight, finds a way to win,” said Browne. “Ultimately, the defense was key and Whittington, we he needed to, made big plays like he has done all year.”
The Eagles knew that they had another chance to knock off the unbeaten Scorpions and let it slip away.
“We’re the only team that has pushed them all year and it’s just disappointing that we didn’t play four, full quarters…Unfortunately, I think we expended too much energy getting back in and we ran out of gas a little bit.”
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|No. 6 Oakland Mills 62, Centennial 55|
Harbinson 5, Ocadiz 4, Adams 22, Potts 13, Benson 1, Stefan 6, Tinuoye 4. Totals 19 10-12 55.
Kiely 7, Zayatz 10, Whittington 21, Peters 17, Ajiboye 7.Totals 21 17-27 62.