By Josh Barr and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 11:35 PM
Keonte Potts had made four three-point shots in the game's final 12 minutes. Standing on the free throw line, with a trip to the first state championship game in school history hanging in the balance, was not nearly as difficult.
Admittedly nervous, the junior guard made the front-end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds left and Centennial dodged two last-second shots to escape with a 56-54 victory over South Hagerstown in a Maryland 3A semifinal on Thursday at Comcast Center.
Already having advanced farther than any team in school history, Centennial (20-6) continued its dreamlike season and advanced to Saturday's state final against defending champion Milford Mill of Baltimore.
"We tried to get here early because it was a different stage," Centennial Coach Chad Hollwedel said. "Even I, walking into the area, broke into a smile because I was overwhelmed. I'm not sure everyone understands the magnitude of this. They might not understand the magnitude until 10 years from now."
The Eagles led by 12 points in the first half but the game grew tight down the stretch. Neither team led by more than four points in the final quarter; there were seven lead changes and four ties.
Potts's step-back three-pointer from the left side gave the Eagles a 54-53 lead with just under one minute remaining.
Rebels center Darico Provitt was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws to tie it at 54-54 with 36 seconds left, then Centennial was called for traveling on the rebound.
Following a timeout, South Hagerstown (21-4) had the opportunity to hold for the last shot of regulation but instead put up a quick jumper that missed, then fouled Potts in the backcourt.
"I was kind of nervous," said Potts, who finished with 18 points. "The game was close."
Aaron Adams led Centennial with 19 points.
l MILFORD MILL 58, FRIENDLY 37: Entering the day's first Maryland 3A semifinal against defending state champion Milford Mill at Comcast Center, No. 5 Friendly had won 22 straight. To arrive at this stage the Patriots needed a comeback from 18 down in the fourth quarter of the 3A South Region final against La Plata five days prior.
So when Friendly (23-4) had just one field goal in the first quarter and trailed by 11, there was not an overwhelming amount of concern. "We weren't shocked, we weren't putting our head down," senior forward Davon Morton said. "It was the first quarter."
And when the Patriots trailed by 20 at the start of the fourth, there was still not any hint of prematurely calling it a season. "You always fight until the clock goes," senior guard Sherrod Baltimore said.
This time, however, there would be no comeback. Milford Mill (24-2) cruised into Saturday's state final.
Patriots senior Mike Johnson took solace in the fact that his team made it to the state's final four when even those around the program doubted it could return to this stage after playing in the state final in 2009.
"This was a great season," Johnson said. "Won the Christmas tournament, won the county, won the region. Beginning of the season people didn't believe in us, even our own school, they doubted us. And this is a great feeling to have all these 'W's, man. . . . I had fun with these guys, and I'm going to miss it."