Layton discovers scoring touch as Centennial edges Palo Verde

Dallin Layton isn’t the No. 1 offensive option for Centennial’s boys basketball team. He’s not the second option or even the third.

But the 6-foot-4-inch senior forward certainly made his presence felt on Friday, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a 67-64 road win over Palo Verde.

“Dallin is a workhorse,” Centennial coach Todd Allen said. “He’s a role player and we always tell him if you hustle, good things are going to happen. Tonight it paid off for him.”

Third-ranked Centennial (17-1, 8-0 Northwest League) led 66-59 after a free throw by Layton with 1:06 to play. But Palo Verde’s Eris Winder hit a step-back 3-pointer from the left wing with 56 seconds to cut the lead to four.

After a turnover, Nahjee Matlock hit a runner for the No. 2 Panthers (12-2, 7-1) to make it 66-64 with 39 seconds to play.

Marcus Allen’s free throw with 14.7 seconds made it 67-64. Winder then missed a 3-pointer and Palo Verde’s Michael Buchanan rebounded.

Buchanan was fouled going for the put-back with 0.4 seconds to play. He missed both foul shots, and Layton secured the rebound and the win as time expired.

“I’ve never been in the spotlight, ever,” said Layton, who entered the game averaging 4.3 points. “So it’s different.”

Marcus Allen scored 27 points, but the Bulldogs’ leading scorer needed some help, and 6-6 center Evan Martin was expending most of his energy on the defensive end guarding the 6-10 Buchanan.

So Layton stepped in as the team’s top inside threat and was often the recipient of strong passes from forward Neiman Lee, who had five assists.

“Evan had to battle defensively against Buchanan, and Dallin picked up the slack for him offensively,” Todd Allen said. “We’re just such an unselfish team. We don’t care who scores, we just want to get the win and move on.”

The Bulldogs won their 13th straight and ended a 12-game win streak for Palo Verde.

The win also put the Bulldogs alone atop the Northwest League with eight games to play and set up an interesting matchup with Palo Verde on the final night of the regular season Feb. 10.

“I think it just prepares us for the next time,” Layton said of earning the road win. “We have a great crowd, and I’m so glad they’re there for us. And it’s going to be even bigger at home.”

Winder led Palo Verde with 17 points, and Jordyn Martin had 10 points and 15 rebounds for the Panthers.

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