The Centennial girls basketball roster lists Deanna Daniels and Johnna Brown at 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet, respectively.
That might be a stretch, but the senior pair played much taller than their size Friday at Palo Verde. Matched against a 6-4 opponent most of the night, Daniels had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Brown added 17 points and 13 boards to lift the Bulldogs over Bishop Gorman 74-60 for the Sunset Region title.
Centennial (30-2), winner of 16 straight, will play the Sunrise Region runner-up or Northern Region champion in the Class 4A state semifinals at 6:20 p.m. Thursday at Orleans Arena.
Gorman’s season isn’t over, though. The Gaels (27-4) will play the loser of today’s Sunrise Region final between Green Valley and Silverado in a play-in game at 5 p.m. Monday at Arbor View. The play-in winner will get the South’s third state semifinals bid.
So, yes, Centennial and Gorman could meet again. Friday’s game was a battle between the top teams in Southern Nevada, and the Bulldogs won by playing strong in the low post.
“Rebounds are just effort,” Brown said. “Ever since I was a freshman, we’ve been undersized. We just work at it.”
Daniels guarded 6-4 Gorman center Dannielle Diamant most of the game. Diamant finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, but few came easily.
“Deanna has great anticipation for the ball and just has a nose for it,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “She does her job of boxing out. She knows she’s undersized, but she’s just working all the time.”
Diamant rarely got a good look at the basket and was often moved out of position for a potential rebound by Daniels.
“Deanna is probably the hardest-working girl I’ve ever met,” Brown said. “She knows she’s not the most athletic, but she knows she can shut down anyone.”
When Daniels couldn’t get to a rebound, Brown was there. The Bulldogs outrebounded Gorman 41-36, which was vital considering Gorman hit only 23 of 65 shots. The Gaels had only 10 second-chance points.
While Brown and Daniels took care of the inside, Alexis Byrd shined on the perimeter for Centennial, scoring 18 points and chasing Gorman junior speedster Aaryn Ellenberg all over the court.
Ellenberg scored 11 points, but was largely a nonfactor.
“We just came out really flat from the beginning,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “We dug a hole and it was too big to come out of. We didn’t play a good game.”
Centennial used a 7-0 run late in the second quarter to open a 33-20 lead. The Gaels didn’t get back within single digits again until the final minute of the game.
Yahindra Edwards scored 16 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, to lead Gorman. Chelsie Pitt added 12 points.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.