January 30, 2013 - 11:48 pm
Malcolm Allen saw the Centennial boys basketball team squander a fourth-quarter lead against Legacy less than two weeks ago.
The senior guard wasn’t about to let it happen again.
Allen made six straight free throws in the final minute to thwart a late Longhorns rally, and host Centennial pulled away for a 70-61 victory on Wednesday.
“We make it hard on ourselves sometimes,” Bulldogs coach Todd Allen said. “I think it’s a mental thing.”
No. 6 Centennial (17-7, 5-2 Southwest) led by double digits for most of the second half and was up by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.
But Donavon Gray heated up late for the Longhorns (17-7, 4-3), whose four-game winning streak ended. Gray scored all of Legacy’s points in an 11-2 run, including three consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which cut Centennial’s lead to 62-57 with 1:41 remaining.
The Bulldogs, who blew a seven-point lead in a 64-60 loss to Legacy on Jan. 18, answered by going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:35.
“Donavon Gray hit some big 3s,” Malcolm Allen said. “We took a timeout and settled down and were able to capitalize and hit a lot of free throws.”
Gray led the Longhorns with 21 points, 13 coming in the fourth quarter. Tim Jeffries added 10 points off the bench for Legacy, which shot 30.7 percent (19 of 62) from the field and struggled from 3-point range until the fourth quarter.
“If you play really good defense but you can’t make shots, it’s a moot point,” Legacy coach Jack Tarango said. “We needed maybe one or two more plays.”
Stanford-bound Malcolm Allen scored 28 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Twin brother Marcus Allen chipped in with 18 points, and Khalil Thompson had 11 as the Bulldogs grabbed sole possession of second place in the Southwest League with three games left in the regular season.
“This is a key win, and the boys know it,” Todd Allen said. “We told them this is a chance for seeding going down the stretch. This definitely puts us in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed.”
Centennial closed out the first quarter on an 12-2 spurt for a 21-7 lead and led 33-22 at halftime as Marcus Allen scored 16 points in the first half.
Malcolm Allen converted a three-point play midway through the third quarter after a nice spin move, and his two free throws with 2:28 left in the third gave Centennial its largest lead of the game at 49-33.
“I think the first half set the tone,” Todd Allen said. “We had to stop their penetration, and for the most part we did. It was a great effort.”