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HOLIDAY CLASSIC: Centennial claims title behind standout Samantha Thomas

Championship basketball teams often make it a habit of doing all the little things during games.

On Friday, Centennial’s girls proved that notion and again showed why they remain in a class of their own in Southern Nevada.

Samantha Thomas led a star-studded cast with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals as the host Bulldogs dominated for a 73-52 win over Skyline (Utah) in the Platinum Bracket final of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.

The Bulldogs (15-2) finished the tournament 6-0 and outscored their opponents by an average of 42.9 points.

“Overall, the week went pretty well,” said Thomas, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “It was good to come back home from (the Tournament of Champions in Phoenix,) Arizona and play in our gym. I think we really needed that to connect as a team.”

The championship mentality was on display from the tipoff. The hustle, unselfishness and cheers from the bench never went away for the two-time defending state champions, and Thomas was the tone setter behind it all.

The senior, who has committed to Arizona, muscled her way in the paint early and often on Friday, scoring 10 first-half points to give the Bulldogs a 39-16 lead at the break. She then added 12 points in the third quarter to build an insurmountable lead before handing the game off to her more-than-capable teammates.

“I think I did pretty good,” Thomas said. “Everybody was saying I’ve been off this tournament, pretty much. But I think in this game, I went out there and did what I could for my team.”

Thomas still was the first to credit her teammates afterwards. She pointed out the play of Scotteanna Thomas, who led the team with seven rebounds, despite being the fourth player off the bench. And the play of 5-foot-6-inch guard Pam Wilmore, who showed no fear in fronting the game’s tallest player — Skyline’s 6-2 Cameron Mooney — in the post later in the game.

“It means a lot (to win MVP), but I wish there was a bunch of these,” said Thomas, lifting her individual trophy. “Because everyone did great today, and I couldn’t have done this without them.”

Jayden Eggleston had 12 points, and Eboni Walker and Justice Ethridge each scored nine for Centennial, which shot 49.2 percent from the field and finished with 18 assists.

Aja Phoumiphat had eight points, and Wilmore notched seven points, five rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs.

Madison Grange led Skyline with 16 points, and Mooney added 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Scotteanna Thomas was named to the all-tournament team for the Bulldogs.

Myra McCaskill from Aztec (New Mexico), See’Airrah Evans-Collins from Desert Pines, Shauna Bribiescas from Dobson (Arizona), Tyra Do from Lathrop (Alaska), Taylor Clark from Lawrence County (Tennessee), Dominique Phillips and Alexis Vaughn from Millennium (Arizona), Baily Osmer from Mountain Pointe (Arizona), Ariana Davis from Palo Verde, Mikayla Shults from Reno, Joelle Jimenez from Roosevelt (California), Kaitlyn McLeod from Spring Creek, Hannah Anderl and Mooney from Skyline (Utah), Jeuzel Pollins from Valley, and Haley Jones from West Torrance (California) also made the all-tournament team.

Centennial 83, Lawrence County (Tenn.) 35 — Ethridge led four double-figure scorers with 16 points, and the Bulldogs made 10 3-pointers to down the Wildcats and advance to the Platinum Bracket title game.

Eggleston had 14 points, Wilmore added 11 points, and Samantha Thomas scored 10 for Centennial, which led 55-15 at halftime.

Taylor Clark led Lawrence County with 12 points.

Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) 43, Cimarron-Memorial 28 — Elise Young scored eight points in the Spartans’ loss to the Pride in the third-place game of the Gold Bracket.

Niara Smith scored six for Cimarron.

Eve Kulovitz had 15 points, and Osmer scored 12 for Mountain Pointe.

Aztec (N.M.) 34, Cimarron-Memorial 24 — Amoura Whitney scored 11 points in the Spartans’ loss to the Tigers in a consolation game.

Niara Smtih added nine points for Cimarron, which trailed 20-9 at halftime.

Jessi Gellentine led Aztec with eight points.

Roosevelt (Calif.) 46, Desert Pines 19 — Heaven Heacock had nine points, and Evans-Collins scored seven in the Jaguars’ loss to the Rough Riders in a consolation game.

Michelle Nwufo led Roosevelt with 11 points, and Jimenez scored nine.

Palo Verde 40, Lathrop (Alaska) 37 — Abbey Hoegh led all scorers with 18 points as the Panthers held on to defeat the Malemutes in the Silver Bracket championship game.

Davis added 16 points for Palo Verde, which led 26-25 after three quarters.

Do led Lathrop with 16 points.

Palo Verde 52, Spring Creek 44 — Hoegh and Kedrena Johnson each scored 14 points as the Panthers rallied by the Spartans earlier in the day to advance to the Silver Bracket final.

Davis scored 12 for Palo Verde, which trailed 22-17 at halftime.

McLeod, Ashley Bodin and Bailey Powell scored nine points apiece for Spring Creek.

Lathrop (Alaska) 48, Valley 44 — Pollins scored a team-high 17 points in the Vikings’ loss to the Malemutes in the third-place game of the Silver Bracket.

Sondra Scroggins had 12 points for Valley, which led 23-16 at halftime.

Makenzie Werner had 19 points, and Do scored 15 for Lathrop.

Lathrop (Alaska) vs. Eldorado — The Malemutes won by forfeit in the opening game of the Silver Bracket.

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