In his mind, Marcus Allen wasn’t on the Orleans Arena basketball court taking the biggest free throws of his life.
He was in his backyard, shooting baskets like he does every single day.
And like he does every day, Allen sank the shots, making two free throws with 16.7 seconds to play to force overtime, and help Centennial gain an 84-72 win over Canyon Springs in the Division I state semifinals Thursday night.
“I just cleared my mind like I was in my backyard,” Allen said. “I shoot 200 free throws a day almost. I just thought I was in the backyard, no pressure, and I just zoned everyone out and I hit the two shots. And from then on, we got on a roll.”
The Bulldogs (23-9) get a fourth crack at Bishop Gorman (28-3) in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Friday.
“I’m just glad everyone stepped up and we came through with this big win and get a fourth chance at Gorman,” said Allen, who had 34 points, six rebounds and seven steals. “So it’s pretty exciting.”
Centennial forced six turnovers in overtime, when it held Canyon Springs without a field goal. Khalil Thompson had two overtime steals,
“We knew once it went to overtime if we could get the lead early and then we’d be fine and we could spread the floor,” Centennial coach Todd Allen said.
Getting to overtime was the hard part. Canyon Springs led 68-62 with 2:30 left in regulation before the Bulldogs rallied. Junior center Eddie Davis made one of the game’s biggest shots, a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:25 left to cut the deficit to 68-67.
“We were down four and I just knew we had to get something,” Davis said.
Todd Allen said he subbed Davis in because of his outside shooting ability.
“I was yelling from the bench, ‘You’ve got Eddie in the corner.’ I don’t know how it got to Eddie, but he hit it. That’s just him stepping up big time,” Allen said.
Davis finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, the latter stat pleasing Allen.
“We told him at halftime that he’s got to keep (rebounding),” Todd Allen said. “If we’d had that all season it would have been a different outcome of things. But he did it when it counted.”
Canyon Springs (18-11) had opportunities to seal the game in regulation, but was foiled at the foul line. The Pioneers hit 3 of 8 at the line in the final 4:09, missing the front of two one-and-ones.
Malcolm Allen added 21 points for the Bulldogs, who were 23-for-28 from the foul line.
Tim Straghter and Gerad Davis each had 19 points to lead Canyon Springs. Straghter scored 17 in the second half, and Davis added six rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots.
“It’s a great opportunity on the biggest stage, state championship at the Orleans,” Marcus Allen said. “Gorman’s a great team. We’re just going to come out and give it our all. We’re going to come in focused and see what happens.”