STORY BY CHRIS LEE | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
Coach Pete Froedden has described this year as a “roller coaster” season. The Cougars reached the apex of the ride on Friday evening.
Centennial played hard and efficiently on both ends of the floor, as the Cougars got an unexpectedly commanding 61-38 win over Brentwood on Centennial’s Senior Night.
The Cougars led from nearly start to finish, steadily putting distance between themselves and the Bruins in the second quarter before pulling away in the third.
It avenged Brentwood’s 58-56 win on Jan. 8.
“We’ve been a roller-coaster team all year,” Froedden said. “Sometimes, we roller-coaster and get a win by two points or so. … I think tonight was the we put a whole game together. We had one small let-down, maybe for a minute, and then I thought we kind of rebounded in that one minute.”
Point guard Tre Carlton had a game-high 19 points, with teammates Andrew Ellison and Patrick Garrett adding 11 and 10, respectively.
Harry Lackey led Brentwood with 10.
Carlton was the best player on the floor on Friday, playing tough perimeter defense and nearly flawless offense. His ability to break down Brentwood’s defense and get to the basket may have been the key to Centennial’s offense.
“He’s the whole deal,” Froedden said. “He’s the ignitor, he’s got to be the engine… he’s got to be all of it, sometimes. And when you have that responsibility, it’s hard. … Tonight, I thought he played well-rounded, and he’s really starting to understand how to run the point guard from a scoring standpoint.”
The Cougars led by 10 at half. The advantage quickly became 32-18 after Ben Brown his a lay-up off a feed, followed by Dusty Williams’s steal at mid-court and pass to a streaking Garrett for a lay-up.
An Ellison 3 in the quarter’s final minute, followed by Carlton’s contested lay-up that spun around and then in as the buzzer approached, made it 40-23 at the end of the third.
Isaac Poore’s layup and ensuing free throw to start the fourth quarter put Centennial up 20 for the first time all night.
A Carlton pull-up, then his steal and lay-up, gave Centennial its biggest lead of the night at 51-25 early in the fourth quarter.
Centennial set the tone early with terrific half-court defense, rarely allowing the Bruins good looks.
“They do such a good job of driving a bad close-out,” Froedden said of Brentwood. “They don’t mind putting it on the floor and finding an open guy. For us, we had a couple of break-downs. But for us, as good as they are, I thought we were really terrific.”
It was a closely-contested game for most of the first half, but, the Cougars started to get a bit of distance late in the half.
Brentwood led 7-6 after a John Windley lay-up, but that was the last Bruin advantage of the night.
An Ellison 3 from the top of the key put Centennial up 23-17, its biggest lead to that point.
After Brentwood’s Ben Mills answered with a foul shot, Centennial went on a 5-0 run—points came from mid-range pull-up jumpers from Williams and Garrett, and a Carlton free throw—to lead 28-18 at the break.
Centennial honored a trio of seniors—Garrett Justice, Alex Wall and Isaac Craker—in a pregame ceremony. Froedden believes that provided some extra motivation.
“[The difference is] the consistency in growth,” Frodden responded, when asked about the difference in the first and second meetings between the teams.
“When it’s Senior Night, these guys really wanted to play well for their senior teammates and their brothers. When they were being honored out there, we had a meeting without those guys, and they just really expressed how important it was for them to make this a special night for their seniors.
“Everybody always remembers their Senior Night. I’m happy our guys are going to have a good memory of what their Senior Night was like tonight.”