Karen Weitz has given hundreds of halftime speeches during her tenure as Centennial’s girls basketball coach.
The one she delivered Friday afternoon might have rivaled one of her best.
After a lackluster first half, the Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run in the first minute and 49 seconds of the third quarter, built a 15-point lead and never looked back en route to an 83-61 win over Reno in the championship game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.
“We know that third quarter is always important. It’s just like the start of a game,” Weitz said. “We had to make a statement.”
Centennial wasn’t particularly crisp in the first half – despite holding Reno sharpshooter Shannon Gough scoreless – but still finished the half on a 6-2 run thanks to a Jada Brown put-back and transition baskets by Paige Barber and Shannon Brown. Still, the Bulldogs led only 34-30 against a team they’d beaten 82-56 four weeks ago in Reno.
Breanna Workman upped the lead to six 16 seconds into the third quarter on a put-back. Less than 90 seconds later, Barber’s 3-pointer from the right wing had the Bulldogs comfortably ahead.
“It helps sometimes when you’ve already played a team,” Weitz said.
Centennial made five 3-pointers in the third quarter, forcing Reno to come out of its zone defense and play man-to-man.
That, in turn, opened up the inside, where Workman and Jada Brown did a lot of damage.
Jada Brown, the tournament Most Valuable Player, finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Workman added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Both are difficult players to defend because they handle the ball well, are strong in the post and can shoot from the perimeter.
“The tradition of our school is that our post players are able to do anything,” Weitz said. “This year, they’re both really athletic. You have to be mobile. When you’re coaching high school basketball, you can’t really have kids who are one-dimensional. They have to be able to do a lot of things.”
Shannon Brown added 15 points, and Paige Barber scored 14 for Centennial, which led 74-49 with 5:13 to play before settling for the 22-point win.
“Shannon and Paige really opened up their defense,” Weitz said.
Sierra Sobrio paced Reno with 20 points, including five 3-pointers. Gough, whose first field goal came on a drive with 56 seconds left in the third quarter, scored 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
“The girls have a lot of pride on defense,” Weitz said. “Sometimes I let them decide. I have faith in all my kids. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure who had (Gough) tonight, but they decided in the locker room who was going to hold her.”
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