It would have been easy for Bishop Gorman and Centennial to overlook their opponents in the Sunset Region girls basketball semifinals Thursday.
After all, their dream matchup was only a day away.
Yet, as they have all season long, the Gaels and Bulldogs didn’t skip a beat.
After Centennial throttled Legacy 94-37 in the first semifinal at Palo Verde, Gorman polished off the host Panthers 70-37 to set up a clash of Southern Nevada titans today.
Both teams will carry long winning streaks into the 5 p.m. game at Palo Verde. The Gaels (27-3) have won 19 in a row and Centennial (29-2) 15 straight.
“A long time ago we looked ahead and we lost. We learned our lesson from that,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “This is the matchup I think everyone’s been waiting for.”
The Sunset champion will earn a Class 4A state semifinal berth, and the loser will play the Sunrise Region runner-up Monday for another semifinal berth.
“That’s a good thing,” Krmpotich said of the prospect of Centennial and Gorman both advancing and possibly meeting again. “It’s always a battle when we play.”
After leading Palo Verde 18-10 seven minutes in, the Gaels went on a 42-9 run to lead 60-19 heading into the fourth quarter. The margin climbed as high as 68-24 with 5:22 left.
In the first three quarters, Gorman forced the Panthers (17-8) into 16 turnovers and held them to 7-for-28 shooting.
During the Gaels’ winning streak, 17 of their victories have been by 20 points or more.
“We pride ourselves on defense. Defense wins championships,” Krmpotich said.
Aaryn Ellenberg led Gorman with 18 points. Dannielle Diamant supplied 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Yahindra Edwards scored 11.
Hayley Henderson scored 20 points and Jasmin Kiley 11 for Palo Verde.
Centennial didn’t wait long to gain control against Legacy, taking a 19-0 lead. The Bulldogs forced 13 turnovers in the first quarter, holding Legacy to six points.
“We started well,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “(Our players) seemed and want to be focused.”
Centennial hasn’t lost since Dec. 30 against Highland (Ariz.). The closest result during the Bulldogs’ winning streak was a 34-point win over Cimarron-Memorial on Feb. 6.
“We practice every day to play against good teams,” Weitz said. “It does get difficult sometimes when the competition isn’t there, but the focus in practice is to practice to play against the best teams. You want to do things right.”
Centennial did plenty right during the first half, taking a 60-16 lead. The Bulldogs shot 26-for-36 from the field in the half, outscoring Legacy in the paint 38-6 and scoring 29 off turnovers.
Alexis Byrd led the Bulldogs with 26 points. Deanna Daniels scored 20, Courtney Hayes 18 and Johnna Brown 12.
Kendra Irving scored eight to lead the Longhorns.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.In-depth high school sports coverage