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COMMENTARY: No blowout for a change, but Centennial reigns again

The overall record is 29-1, and the national ranking is a robust fifth, and the goal of reaching another Division I state tournament has been realized, and everything they say about the Centennial High girls basketball team and its prominent place in Nevada history seems more than trustworthy.

And yet there is a good chance Karen Weitz’s mother today still thinks she screams at players too much.

“She says, ‘You are so mean and yell at them,'” Weitz said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, because we just turned the ball over trying to run out the clock. You’d be mad, too.’

“We didn’t come out with a punch tonight. Bishop Gorman came out tougher than us from the tip. They were more aggressive. We didn’t play very good defense, and all the little things we do in practice were left to the side. … Our players kept hearing all this hype about being ranked, being ranked. It doesn’t matter. You still have to play the game. We didn’t come out to play full punch tonight.”

And still won 71-56.

As girls basketball goes in Southern Nevada, there is the Centennial-Bishop Gorman rivalry and everyone else. The teams met in a Sunset Region final for a 14th straight season Friday at Arbor View, both with top 25 national rankings, both offering a collection of future college players, both expertly coached, both having not dropped a game to an in-state foe this season.

Weitz will go for an eighth state championship next week in Reno, and there is a better chance of UNLV hiring Eric Musselman of UNR as its next coach at halftime of tonight’s Rebels game than Centennial being denied its title.

The Bulldogs are a cut above and then some.

But it was obvious early Friday those pregame whispers of a Centennial blowout were far-fetched and terribly misguided. This might have been one of the Bulldogs’ more inconsistent efforts of the season, but the Gaels had a lot to do with it. They’re ranked 23rd, start three Division I signees and led 16-11 after one quarter.

Someone forgot to pass on the message about them rolling over.

There would be no 40-point margin to signal a second-half running clock, no ridiculous tactics by a team not to win by 50, no buffoonery that has sadly seeped its way into girls basketball across the state because of some foolish rule created in 2011 by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association to encourage sportsmanship and prevent embarrassing scores.

The result: The game on some nights has become a total mockery of its intended purpose.

In other words, adults again got involved and screwed things up.

Bartt Davis of the Review-Journal last month wrote a terrific piece on the rule and how Weitz’s job was actually threatened if her team continued to beat others by more than 50. I don’t know who was jealous and spiteful enough within the district to complain about Weitz, but I do know the rule as it stands today is moronic.

I instead have faith in the resiliency of kids, in their ability to see the big picture for what it is, to move on quickly from defeat, far more than parents and administrators and perhaps coaches who support this statute against teams winning by 50 or more.

I have to believe most players would rather run and jump and shoot and lose big than what we now witness when a team attempts not to win by 50:

Trying not to score.

Playing keep-away with the ball.

Purposely missing shots and being whistled for infractions and violations.

What’s more embarrassing, losing by playing or losing by being pitied?

“We have to stay focused on what we’re doing, but I’m glad this is being brought to attention,” Weitz said. “Something needs to be changed.”

Some think a running clock should begin earlier. Some believe games should be called when the margin reaches a certain level. I think basketball teams should play basketball, and there should be some level of trust put in those coaching to exhibit class and empathy when their side gains such a huge advantage.

All coaches won’t do it the right way. There are selfish, bad people in every profession who can’t see beyond their own egos. But public opinion can be a strong and powerful tool, and I’m guessing those who win big in a classless manner would and should endure the wrath of such backlash.

But what we saw in some instances this season is pathetic, and there is absolutely no way you would ever convince me kids on the losing end of those blowouts want such a display.

Because it’s still about the kids, right?

Right?

There wasn’t a need for such nonsense Friday, when the Bulldogs and Gaels met for the right to play for a state championship next week, and Weitz, with the upset of the night, somehow managed a smile after her team’s victory.

“You just keep trying,” she said. “You see what reaches kids. I’ve tried over the years to be calmer, to talk more, but there are some kids who need a little fire under their butt and some you can just make one comment to. They’re always coached fairly. There is no gray area with me. They know everything will be a certain way. I love those kids, and they know that, and they’re treated very well.”

And coached very well.

It’s true what they say about Centennial.

A cut above and then some, even on an off night.

Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney

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