Centennial hungry for title that got away

Shortly after losing the Sunset Region in the most agonizing way last year, Centennial’s boys golf team sat around a table at a local eatery and commiserated.

The Bulldogs had tied for the low score, but the sixth-player tiebreaker favored Palo Verde and Centennial was relegated to runner-up status.

Afterward, no one was pointing fingers at the Bulldogs — except at themselves.

“We went out to dinner after the match and everybody was talking about, 'I had this little shot or that,’ ” junior Greg Kerber said. “Everybody had their shot that could have changed the outcome.”

Centennial’s Zach Chyz carded a 1-under-par 71 at Red Rock Country Club in May to win the individual Sunset title, and Kerber was second at 74.

But Palo Verde wound up with five of the top 13 finishers, and the Panthers won the tiebreaker, 80-96.

“Everyone had that stroke, where it was like, 'Oh, my goodness, that could have won it,’ ” said Chyz, a senior. “This is team golf; it’s a little different than playing by yourself.”

That vivid memory is serving as motivation this season, and Centennial coach Greg Bohls is encouraged by his players’ team-first mindset.

“The maturity they’ve had has been with their teammates, being positive with other people,” Bohls said. “They’re not just focusing on their own score.”

The two Northwest League powers could be on another collision course to the postseason. Palo Verde returns five letterwinners from its first Class 4A state championship team since 2001, and Centennial has six back from its fourth-place team at state.

Palo Verde lost its top two state finishers to graduation, but Chyz said the Bulldogs aren’t assuming that gives them any sort of advantage.

“We have a pretty good team this year,” he said. “We have a really good chance to take regionals if we don’t have our heads too high thinking we’re the best.”

Kerber agreed, citing the “right attitude” as key for the postseason.

“We can take it,” he said. “We have the skill level. It’s just being on at the right time.”

Centennial is 1-1 in dual matches, losing 200-202 to 2008 Sunrise runner-up Green Valley. Bohls said the Bulldogs are “five or six deep,” though the team is awaiting word from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on the eligibility of touted Arbor View transfer Brad Rowland.

“A different leader steps forward every week,” Bohls said. “The competition amongst themselves really helps the team. They’re kind of battling in practice to see who will be in that first group.”

Seniors Jacob Barton and Mark Bachmeier are also expected to perform consistently for the Bulldogs. Bohls first wants his team to “compete for the Northwest title,” then focus on the postseason.

But for a team that returns a state-high three individuals from the top 12 in the state meet, a championship is something to at least ponder.

“It’s yet to be seen whether we can compete for a state championship,” Bohls said. “But I’m real positive about it, and I think the guys are, too.”