Centennial girls need late kick vs. California club

Centennial’s girls basketball team found itself in unfamiliar territory Wednesday.

The Bulldogs, whose average margin of victory in their first nine wins was 45 points, held a precarious four-point lead in the third quarter on their home floor.

And they weren’t playing well.

The end result, though, turned out a bit more recognizable.

The Bulldogs used a strong finishing kick to erase a subpar first 2½ quarters on their way to a 62-44 win over Santa Fe (Calif.) in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.

“You always want to win, every game, every tournament,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “We’re not expected to do anything but win. We know that, but I don’t know if the kids know that.”

Centennial, which later blew out Douglas 73-22 to improve to 11-1, will meet Fairfax (Calif.) in a semifinal game at 11:40 a.m. today. The championship game is set for 3:40 p.m.

But the trip to the semifinal was anything but a certainty when Centennial led only 33-29 midway through the third quarter.

The Chiefs had scored seven straight points and had a 2-on-1 break to potentially cut Centennial’s lead to two. Instead, the Bulldogs hurried back on defense, forced a missed shot and turned it into a transition jumper by Ashley Klemz.

It started a game-clinching 10-0 run that gave Centennial a 43-29 lead.

“Once I eventually found the people that didn’t come to play and got them out, we found the seven that wanted to go, and they played a little better,” Weitz said.

Centennial didn’t click early, squandering a 10-2 lead and missing countless shots from inside the paint.

With all-state wing Courtney Hayes missing her sixth straight game because of a knee injury and the Bulldogs getting surprisingly scant offensive production from Klemz and Jada Brown, Centennial used its depth to pull away.

Tamera Williams scored 10 of her 15 points in the second half, and Shannon Brown had nine of her 11 points in the final two quarters.

Breanna Workman scored 14 points for the Bulldogs.

“We don’t have any star players,” Weitz said. “Tamera can be just as good as Courtney, and Bre and Shannon Brown can be just as good as Jada. It just depends on the night.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-5230.

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