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.
Western 75, Valley 71 — At Valley, Johnnie Diggs poured in 24 points, including 21 in the second half and overtime, as the Warriors advanced to the semifinals by knocking off host Vikings.
Melvin Washington had 17 points and 12 rebounds and De’Andre Nash 15 points for the Warriors.
Valley controlled the game in the first half, opening on an 18-5 run before taking a 31-19 lead into the locker room. But the Warriors responded in the second half, using a trapping defense to take Valley out of its offensive rhythm.
Western forced eight second-half turnovers, and the 6-foot-9-inch Washington bothered several other shots.
Nash’s 3-pointer gave the Warriors their first lead of the game at 40-39 midway through the second half. And, after Valley took a 47-39 lead, the Warriors rallied to tie the score at 50 on a three-point play by Diggs with 3:38 to play.
Western went ahead 62-59 on two free throws by Diggs with 5.5 seconds left in regulation, but Valley’s Khristian Kirkwood hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
However, Diggs capped an 8-0 run for the Warriors in the extra session with a steal and layup as Western erased a 64-63 deficit.
Western held a significant advant age at the foul line as the Warriors were 23-for-33 from the stripe and the Vikings 2-for-4.
Kirkwood led Valley with 17 points, and Chris Marshall scored 16. Johnquez Brooks added 14 points and Alonzo Blount 10 for the Vikings.
Palo Verde 102, Eldorado 93 — At Valley, Davion Pearson scored 25 points as the Panthers (7-1) outlasted the Sundevils (10-3) in an up-tempo quarterfinal at Valley.
Moses Morgan added 18 points, and Bryce Cotton and Nick Hipwell each finished with 10 points for Palo Verde, which will meet Western at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Valley.
Mitrell Clark helped keep Eldorado in the game with 33 points, including 24 in the second half. Fabian Garcia had 19 points and Charles White 17 for the Sundevils.
Morgan jump-started an early Palo Verde run when he scored after D.J. Stennis’ between-the-legs bounce pass. The Panthers led 27-22 after a 3-pointer by Bronston Abad only to see Eldorado rally and take a 38-37 lead with 3:35 left in the first half after White’s coast-to-coast layup.
Palo Verde answered with an 18-7 run to close the half and took a 55-45 lead into the locker room.
The Sundevils got as close as eight points in the second half, but Palo Verde went up 77-65 on a nice reverse layup by Cotton and led 86-70 with 6:45 remaining after a 3-pointer by Morgan.
Serra (Calif.) 61, Las Vegas 52 — At Las Vegas, the Cavaliers opened the game with a 10-1 run, and the Wildcats never recovered.
Vaughn Autry had 12 points to lead Serra, which advanced to Monday’s semifinals.
Tony Eackles had 14 points and Tyree Anderson 13 for Lass Vegas, which cut its deficit to 51-45 with 3:41 to go.
But Serra then scored six straight points to seal the win.
Aahmad Franklin had 11 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Wildcats.
In other games at Las Vegas High:
Centennial 79, Desert Pines 78 — Kundanani’s buzzer beater gave the Bulldogs the win over the Jaguars.
Staker led Centennial with 24 points. Vozzola added 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Kundanani scored 13 points and Chris Henderson 12 for the Bulldogs.
Reggie Shaw hit five 3-pointers and totaled 35 points for Desert Pines.
Donovan Williams added 14 points, Pierre Jackson 13 and Tyler Larson 10 for the Jaguars.
Las Vegas 61, Arbor View 58 — Eackles had 17 points as the Wildcats held off the Aggies.
Anderson’s basket with 3:26 to go broke a 56-56 tie and put the Wildcats up for good.
Franklin added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Las Vegas, which turned 23 Arbor View turnovers into 20 points.
Kenny Mack had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Arbor View. James Graham added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Aggies.
Sierra Vista 47, Morningside (Calif.) 32 — Amir Garrett had 17 points to lead the Mountain Lions over the Monarchs.
Chow had 10 points for Sierra Vista.
Carson (Calif.) 73, Green Valley 63 — The Colts outscored the Gators 47-36 in the second half to get the win.
Demertius Pittman scored 15 to lead Green Valley. Glenn Bewley added 13 points for the Gators.
Faith Lutheran 66, Bonanza 62 — Ben Lubbe had 21 points and Chase Saunders 19 as the Crusaders held off the Bengals.
Michael Quinn added 11 points for Faith Lutheran.
Andrew Whiting and Arin Matt each had 19 points for Bonanza.
Fullerton (Calif.) 52, Faith Lutheran 47 — The Indians took a 36-21 halftime lead and held off the Crusaders.
Lubbe had 17 points and Saunders 16 for Faith Lutheran.
In other games at Valley:
Valley 74, Legacy 71 — Marshall scored 19 points and Brooks 14 as the Vikings rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to beat the Longhorns (5-4).
Delroy Gibbs finished with 16 points for Legacy, which led 43-31 at the break before being outscored 43-28 in the second half.
Palo Verde 69, Palos Verdes (Calif.) 44 — Morgan scored 18 points and Cotton 16 as the Panthers rolled past the Sea Kings.
Hipwell added 12 points for Palo Verde.
Eldorado 66, Woodbridge (Calif.) 58 — Clark scored a game-high 19 points as the Sundevils knocked off the Warriors.
Marcus Moreland added 13 points and Shawn Mays 12 for Eldorado.
Western 66, Douglas 63 — Diggs had 21 points and Ehbert Talice 15 as the Warriors held off the Tigers.
Coronado 81, Santee (Calif.) 65 — Charlie Wakefield scored 21 points and Chris Ligon 14 as the Cougars defeated Santee.
Austin Nelson contributed 12 points for Coronado, which outscored West Hills (Calif.) 48-17 in the second half to notch a 77-45 win in an earlier contest.