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Top-ranked Centennial girls roll past Spring Valley

In a playoff atmosphere Thursday night at Spring Valley, the Centennial girls basketball team put forth a playoff performance in an 82-44 victory.

Top-ranked Centennial, which has just two seniors on its roster, kept its cool in a physical matchup to improve to 11-3 overall and 7-0 in the Class 5A Southern League.

Bulldogs coach Karen Weitz said it was an important test for her young team, and the players passed the test in the high-pressure game.

“It doesn’t matter what gets thrown at us,” Weitz said. “We know how to handle it. … Let’s just focus on what we do every single day, use that muscle memory and let’s look better.”

Centennial’s Kaniya Boyd scored a game-high 26 points. Danae Powell scored 14 and Charlece Ohiaeri 13 for the Bulldogs.

The Grizzlies (11-5, 4-3) held steady with the Bulldogs in the first quarter, but with McDonald’s All-America guard Aaliyah Gayles on the bench nursing a wrist injury, Spring Valley couldn’t keep up with the six-time defending state champs.

Leading 37-23 at halftime, the Bulldogs caught fire in the third quarter. Spring Valley’s Grace Knox cut the deficit to 41-27 with a field goal, but Centennial then went on a 16-0 run, with Ohiaeri scoring 11 of the points.

Spring Valley coach Billy Hemberger, whose squad relied on freshmen and sophomores for significant minutes, was impressed with the Grizzlies’ toughness despite the loss to the perennial powerhouse.

“I’m very proud of their efforts,” Hemberger said. “We’re not afraid of anybody.”

Gayles suffered the wrist injury Jan. 26 in a 67-64 loss to Desert Oasis. Hemberger said she will be ready for the postseason.

Mia Ervin led Spring Valley with 11 points. Knox and Gia McFadden each scored 10.

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