Seventh in a series: The top five high school state girls basketball championship games from the 2000s, as selected by the Review-Journal staff. Monday: Boys basketball.
No. 5: Centennial 59, Bishop Gorman 58
2009, Class 4A, Orleans Arena
Junior Alexis Byrd made two free throws with 0.5 seconds left as the Bulldogs ended the Gaels’ run of three straight state championships.
“I knew I was going to make my free throws and win a state championship,” Byrd said.
Chelsie Pitt’s basket with 20.3 seconds left gave Gorman a 58-57 lead, and Centennial grabbed two offensive rebounds before finding Byrd on the right side. She drove near the baseline and drew contact before her shot went in, but officials waved off the basket and called a blocking foul on Gorman before the shot.
Centennial was in the double bonus, and Byrd went to the line.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better person to be on the line,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said.
No. 4: Faith Lutheran 50, Spring Valley 47
2016, Class 3A, UNR
Sam Caruth poured in 28 points as the Crusaders broke a seven-game losing streak against the Grizzlies in a rematch of the 2015 final.
Caruth’s sixth 3-pointer gave Faith Lutheran the lead for good 43-42 with two minutes remaining. She went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 49.6 seconds.
Essence Booker had 17 points and 15 rebounds for Spring Valley, which rallied from a 27-15 halftime deficit but shot 14-for-52 against the Crusaders’ man-to-man defense.
“I haven’t cried in a long time,” Faith Lutheran coach Jennifer Karner said. “I had some tears of joy today.”
No. 3: Pahrump Valley 55, Boulder City 53
2005, Class 3A, Orleans Arena
Melanie Maeder’s 23-foot 3-pointer as time expired in overtime gave the Trojans back-to-back titles.
Dena Houser gave Boulder City a 53-52 lead with 16.2 seconds left, and Pahrump tried to set up senior guard Darla Hopkins for the winning shot.
Hopkins, who had 27 points, was double-teamed on the right side before bringing the ball back out and finding Maeder open on the left side. Maeder had missed a potential winning 10-footer at the regulation buzzer.
“My heart dropped,” Hopkins said. “And then when she made it, oh, I can’t even explain it. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
No. 2: Centennial 74, Liberty 65
2018, Class 4A, UNR
Jade Thomas drained a game-tying 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer as the Bulldogs erased a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to top the Patriots in overtime.
Senior Justice Ethridge scored 14 points in the fourth quarter but fouled out with seven seconds left. Thomas, a sophomore, buried a shot from the right corner just before the horn sounded to tie the game 61-61.
“I was crying,” Ethridge said. “There’s no way we were going to let them beat us.”
Centennial’s depth took over in overtime, as three players from each team fouled out.
“We’ve been trained to come up from bad falls,” Thomas said.
No. 1 Centennial 76, Douglas 74
2002, Class 4A, UNR
Darci Sandoval scored 21 points as the Bulldogs capped a perfect season with a double-overtime win over the Tigers, breaking Northern Nevada’s 21-year stranglehold on the large-school championship.
Centennial led 68-65 after Jenene James made two free throws with eight seconds left in the first overtime, but Douglas’ Andrea Honer hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to force a second overtime.
Already without two starters who had fouled out, Centennial (34-0) took a 76-74 lead when Karissa Fernandez made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left.
A desperation 3-pointer by Douglas’ Tarrah Kizer at the buzzer missed, and the Bulldogs became the first Southern Nevada team to win the state’s large-school title since Chaparral in 1980.
“I guess that’s what a state championship game is supposed to be like,” Centennial’s Weitz said.