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Centennial overpowers Reno to return to state championship game

RENO — If anyone could derail the Centennial train, perhaps, the crowd at Lawlor Events Center willed itself into thinking, it could be the Northern Region champions?

No such luck.

The Bulldogs’ girls basketball team received double-digit scoring from four players and rolled over Reno in the Class 4A state semifinals Thursday by a final score of 68-30.

The Bulldogs advanced to their fourth consecutive state championship game, where they will play Liberty (31-2) at 6:10 p.m. Friday at Lawlor.

“Each one is harder every year because your kids get more complacent,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “They just expect things to happen. So the more you win, the harder it gets because to keep them focused is very difficult.”

The Bulldogs (28-3) did to Reno on Thursday what they’ve done to Nevada opponents for years now: start fast, and play relentlessly throughout. Six players scored in the first quarter and Centennial led 17-8. It was 36-14 at halftime, 53-26 after the third and went to a running clock in the fourth.

The most impressive player for Centennial was the one who did a little bit of everything. Daejah Phillips had 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and the team’s lone block.

“I just want to win, and do anything I can for the team,” Phillips said. “It feels good.”

Since Class 4A started in the 1996-97 season, Thursday was the first time that both girls semifinals were decided by at least 30 points. Liberty defeated McQueen, 71-33.

Centennial’s game against Liberty will be their first meeting of the year after the Bulldogs eliminated them from the state tournament the previous two years.

“We have to clean some stuff up, hopefully tomorrow and find the right seven or eight people ready to go,” Weitz said. “You hope they come, they’re focused and they understand the importance of what they’re doing.”

Justice Ethridge led Centennial with 14 points and nine boards, Eboni Walker had 13 points, and Melanie Isbell scored 12.

Kaitlynn Bissaou led the Huskies (22-8) with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. No other player scored more than six.

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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