Centennial’s boys basketball team has played a rugged early schedule, having only one home game out of its first 12.
Bulldogs coach Greg Bohls said the reason is simple: to get his team prepared for Northwest League play.
After edging two quality opponents Saturday, it looks as if Centennial might be ready to compete in one of the area’s toughest leagues.
The Bulldogs beat Desert Pines 79-78, then Sierra Vista 51-49 to reach the semifinals of the Las Vegas Prep Championship at Las Vegas High.
“I feel like our kids have played hard all year,” Bohls said. “We’ve lost down the stretch and learned some things, and now we’ve won a few down the stretch and learned some things. It’s all about preparing for (league).”
Sierra Vista plays Serra (Calif.) in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Las Vegas.
Desert Pines and Sierra Vista had a combined 19-5 record before running into Centennial (6-6) Saturday.
Against Desert Pines, Anil Kundanani made a buzzer-beater to lift the Bulldogs.
In the quarterfinal, Centennial used a hot first half to take control, then held off the Sierra Vista.
The Bulldogs shot 6-for-13 from 3-point range in the first half, taking a 27-19 lead.
Centennial again depended on 3-point attempts early in the second half, but with less success, and some rushed outside shots helped Sierra Vista get back into the game.
“When we have troubles, it’s one pass and a 3-pointer without our big guy touching the ball,” Bohls said. “It’s been a little bit of a problem all year, but when it goes down, you overlook some things.”
A basket by Drew Staker with about nine minutes to go broke a 39-39 tie and put Centennial ahead for good.
Senior forward Matt Holley had only two points in the second half, but his five rebounds and four assists after the break helped the Bulldogs hang on. His pass to Ben Vozzola for a layup with 1:14 remaining made it 49-43.
“Matt has been the center of our team all year,” Bohls said. “He’s the heart of our team. He plays extremely hard, and he’s just really a heady player.”
Vozzola supplied 20 points, and Holley had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Quinten Chow led Sierra Vista with 19 points.
Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587.SATURDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS
• Michael Thompson converted a three-point play with 2:32 to play in overtime, giving Canyon Springs the lead for good in a 60-58 victory over Cheyenne in the National Invitational tournament at Durango.
• Wade Collie had 27 points and 11 rebounds, helping Silverado advance to the title game in the National Invitational with a 75-65 victory over Spring Valley.
• Johnnie Diggs scored 24 points as Western beat Valley 75-71 in overtime to move into the semifinals of the Las Vegas Prep Championship.
• Davion Pearson had 25 points as Palo Verde beat Eldorado 102-93 to move into the semifinals of the Las Vegas Prep Championship.
• Brandon Tiffany made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help Tech rally for a 51-46 victory over Shadow Ridge in the Vegas Invitational at Mountain View.
• Alena Evans scored 17 of her 23 points in the first half, and Silverado beat Spanish Springs 60-36 in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.
• Hayley Henderson had 27 points as Palo Verde beat Carson 57-52 in double overtime in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
ON THE INTERNET: For complete coverage of Saturday’s basketball games and other high school sports, go to nevadapreps.com.