Karen Weitz has given hundreds of halftime speeches during her tenure as Centennial’s girls basketball coach.
The one she delivered Friday afternoon might have rivaled one of her best.
After a lackluster first half, the Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run in the first minute and 49 seconds of the third quarter, built a 15-point lead and never looked back en route to an 83-61 win over Reno in the championship game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.
“We know that third quarter is always important. It’s just like the start of a game,” Weitz said. “We had to make a statement.”
Centennial wasn’t particularly crisp in the first half — despite holding Reno sharpshooter Shannon Gough scoreless — but still finished the half on a 6-2 run thanks to a Jada Brown put-back and transition baskets by Paige Barber and Shannon Brown. Still, the Bulldogs led only 34-30 against a team they’d beaten 82-56 four weeks ago in Reno.
Breanna Workman upped the lead to six 16 seconds into the third quarter on a put-back. Less than 90 seconds later, Barber’s 3-pointer from the right wing had the Bulldogs comfortably ahead.
“It helps sometimes when you’ve already played a team,” Weitz said.
Centennial made five 3-pointers in the third quarter, forcing Reno to come out of its zone defense and play man-to-man.
That, in turn, opened up the inside, where Workman and Jada Brown did a lot of damage.
Jada Brown, the tournament Most Valuable Player, finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Workman added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Both are difficult players to defend because they handle the ball well, are strong in the post and can shoot from the perimeter.
“The tradition of our school is that our post players are able to do anything,” Weitz said. “This year, they’re both really athletic. You have to be mobile. When you’re coaching high school basketball, you can’t really have kids who are one-dimensional. They have to be able to do a lot of things.”
Shannon Brown added 15 points, and Paige Barber scored 14 for Centennial, which led 74-49 with 5:13 to play before settling for the 22-point win.
“Shannon and Paige really opened up their defense,” Weitz said.
Sierra Sobrio paced Reno with 20 points, including five 3-pointers. Gough, whose first field goal came on a drive with 56 seconds left in the third quarter, scored 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
“The girls have a lot of pride on defense,” Weitz said. “Sometimes I let them decide. I have faith in all my kids. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure who had (Gough) tonight, but they decided in the locker room who was going to hold her.”
Workman also earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Other players from Southern Nevada schools on the team are: Shadow Ridge’s Sabriya Brooks, Western’s Mylasia Smith, Coronado’s Lexi Melone, Liberty’s Alena Evans and Alyx Stiff, Valley’s Tyricia Payne, and Arbor View’s Jena Valenzuela.
Centennial 50, West (Calif.) 47 — Workman recorded 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs rallied to defeat the Warriors and earn a spot in the final.
Sydney Chase’s 3-pointer with 57 seconds to play gave West a 46-45 lead, but Workman answered 15 seconds later with a basket inside to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Jada Brown had seven of her 13 points in the fourth quarter for Centennial, which trailed 28-22 midway through the third quarter. Paige Barber scored 11 for Centennial.
Chase tallied 16 points, and Nicole Nitake added 13 points for West.
Reno 69, Liberty 58 — Gough shook off a third-quarter ankle injury to score 23 points and lead the Huskies past the Patriots in a semifinal.
Gough had nine points in the third quarter as Reno built a 53-34 lead and held on for the win.
Gigi Hascheff added 18 points, and Morgan McGwire scored 14 for the Huskies, who got 10 points from Sierra Sobrio.
Stiff paced Liberty with 17 points, and teammate Tae’lor Monroe tallied 14 points.
Shadow Ridge 40, Western 24 — Brooks scored 14 points to help the Mustangs down the Warriors.
Aleya Ford-Wheaton paced Western with six points.
Mira Costa (Calif.) 45, Coronado 30 — Camille Mills and Meghan Peneueta led a balanced attack with seven points apiece as Mira Costa downed the Cougars.
Dajah Washington had nine points for Coronado, which played without leading scorer Sofie Cruz due to injury. Coronado’s Melone, a senior point guard, left the game in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury.
Spring Creek 51, Valley 46 — Kyla Siri had 17 points, and the Spartans got off to a quick 14-7 lead before holding off the Vikings.
Zuleika Grinsell added 13 points for Spring Creek.
Kennedy Wharton paced Valley with 13 points, and teammate Gabby Cabanero scored 12.
Carson 43, Arbor View 32 — Tiana McAllister-Daggs tallied 14 points, and the Senators scored the first seven points of the third quarter en route to a win over the Aggies.
Ria Louch led Arbor View with 10 points.
Douglas 36, Moapa Valley 27 — Diana Regalado had 13 points, and the Tigers used a 15-3 run to start the second half on their way to a win over the Patriots.
Ebony Cleveland added 12 points for Douglas.
Ashley Noto led Moapa Valley with nine points.