After picking up his second foul on a reach-in call, Brown went to the bench at the four-minute mark, his team trailing 13-5 and he had just two points on 1-of-4 shooting with two turnovers. He wasn't playing well, and he knew it.
"It was frustrating," said Brown. "I thought I hurt my team by getting two fouls so I sat there and thought about it.
"I knew when I got back in I wanted to make something happen."
He did just that. Brown returned to the floor at the start of the second quarter and keyed a stellar final three quarters for Centennial. The Knights lacks ideal height, as the team's tallest player is 6-foot-7. United Faith features five legitimate high-major players including 2010 standouts Ian Miller, a Florida State commitment, Tevin Friday, and Kadeem Green. UFCA plays five players who are 6'6 or taller.
Recruited to play both guard positions for NC State, Brown had to at times defend the power forward position. What did Centennial do? The Knights extended their defense and turned up the pressure, forcing numerous turnovers that led to easy transition baskets.
Brown hit 6-of-8 shots in the second quarter, recorded three steals and grabbed four boards. His 13-point outburst helped give the Knights a halftime lead they would never relinquish.
"That was the biggest team we've ever played," said Brown. "I've played some tall teams before but none like that. After we adjusted to what we needed to do, we played really good."
Ian Miller played well for UFCA, totaling 24 points. However, he picked up his fifth foul, along with his second technical of the game, early in the fourth quarter. With their point guard on the bench, UFCA had no answer for Centennial's pressure, and the Knights went on to defeat UFCA 84-81. The game wasn't as close as the score indicated, as UFCA knocked down a barrage of 3-pointers in the final couple of minutes, cutting into a double-digit Centennial lead.
Brown was the star of the game and the tournament. The 6-foot-4 combo guard finished with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting. He also tallied six rebounds, six assists, and six steals while recording just one turnover in the final three quarters.
"I wanted to lead my team," he said. "I wanted to set an example. I was a little light-headed because I had a longer break today, but I had to get myself together and play harder so we could get the win."
For his efforts, Brown was awarded the tournament's Most Outstanding Player trophy. Centennial is now 6-1 on the season and will return home for the holidays before heading back to North Carolina for the 37th annual GSK Holiday Invitational.
Considered one of the top prep tournaments in the country, the four-day event will be held at Raleigh (NC) Broughton High School's historic Holliday Gymnasium. Games begin December 26th and will conclude with the finals on December 30th. No games are played on Sunday, December 28th, and the event features two 8-team boys tournaments and a 4-team girls tournament.
The other mini-tournament might be even stronger, as it features Word of God (John Wall, C.J. Leslie, Bishop Daniels), Kinston (Reggie Bullock), Rocky Mount (Tashawn Mabry), Middle Creek (Garrius Adams), Christ School (Mason Plumlee, Lakeem Jackson, Marshall Plumlee), and North Mecklenburg (Andre Marhold, Bernard Sullivan), among others.
Centennial's first game is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturday December 27th against Toronto (Can.) Father Carr.
"Winning this tournament was big for us," said Brown. "We're playing real good right now, and we'll be in another nice tournament this weekend in Raleigh. We want to go up there and win that one too.
"I'm definitely ready to go up and play a game in Raleigh."
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