By Maurice Patton
THOMPSONS STATION – Independence overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit Friday night, but Centennial wasn’t done.
Patrick Garrett’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining put the Cougars back in front, and the visitors held on for a 58-56 District 11-AAA victory.
“Wins have been hard for us to come by,” said Centennial – and former Indy – coach Jeremy Moore following his team’s second nailbiter in as many outings. “We’ll take ‘em, from here to Mars.
“We had a slow start. But that’s how all our league games are. These teams are well prepared. Our kids just made some plays. We had some big stops and some big shots.”
Coming off a 68-66 win Tuesday over visiting Summit to stop a five-game skid, Centennial (7-16, 4-6) trailed 7-0 in the opening 2½ minutes and 10-2 following a 3-pointer by Independence freshman guard Jett Montgomery.
Three straight low-post baskets from Lincoln Aholt helped the Cougars settle in, though, and the 6-5 sophomore put his team ahead early in the second period after a Matthew Busing 3 and a Garrett three-point play.
“Lincoln’s getting better every day,” Moore said. “We’re starting to learn how to read the defense. It’s definitely a focal point for us every game, getting him the ball.”
Playing inside-out offensively, Centennial took a 29-26 lead into intermission and stretched that to 42-31 midway through the third period before Independence (8-9, 5-6) turned up the heat defensively and got the margin down to 47-42 with eight minutes to play.
“We got up early and I think we relaxed, and we didn’t get it back till late,” Eagles coach Doug Keil said. “Midway through the third, we played with the energy and the intensity we expect to play with the whole game. We finally started fighting and scrapping and playing our type basketball.”
A corner 3 from Owen Ries and back-to-back River Katina baskets gave the hosts the lead, and a Katina trey with 1:41 remaining put his team ahead 54-51.
With a one-point lead after Trayvon Barbary’s basket, though, Katina misfired on a 3 and Aholt rebounded to set up Garrett’s go-ahead basket. On the ensuing possession, Montgomery’s trey was off the mark with Busing pulling down the rebound and hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 5.9 seconds remaining.
“We took the lead, but we weren’t able to hold it,” Keil said. “I have to do a better job of coaching in that situation.”
Aholt scored a team-high 15 points and Garrett 14 – with a pair of 3s — for Centennial.
“Patrick’s been really struggling shooting the ball, but he finds ways to help us win,” Moore said. “He defends the other team’s best player, he handles the ball a lot. We’re just waiting for him to get out of this funk, because he’s a really good shooter.”
Montgomery scored a game-high 19 points for Independence, while Katina finished with 14.
In the girls contest, Ryan Brown had eight points as the host Lady Eagles (2-12, 1-8) picked up their first district win, defeating Centennial (1-9, 0-6) 30-14.
Centennial boys 58, Independence 56
C 12 17 18 11 – 58
I 18 8 16 14 – 56
Centennial (58) – Trayvon Barbary 8, Patrick Garrett 14, Malachi Pointer 3, Luke Burnett 8, Lincoln Aholt 15, Matthew Busing 8, Matthew Joiner 2
Independence (56) – Jett Montgomery 19, Owen Ries 3, Tyus Anderson 4, Sam Womack 2, River Katina 14, Cameron Bell 12, Justin Miles 2
3-pointers – Centennial 6 (Garrett 2, Pointer, Burnett, Busing 2), Independence 6 (Montgomery 3, Ries, Katina 2)
Independence girls 30, Centennial 14
C 3 0 7 4 – 14
I 4 9 10 7 – 30
Centennial (14) – A.J. Lein 5, Miki Murasawa 2, Catherine Ligon 4, Andie Kelley 3
Independence (30) – Leah Oubre 4, Marley Womack 4, Evy Nichols 2, Claudia Chilton 2, Maddie Marcus 5, Ryan Brown 8, Cristy Martinez 5
3-pointers — none
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports