The high school basketball postseason begins this week, and that means it’s time to look forward to another showdown between Centennial and Bishop Gorman for the Sunset Region girls title.
The teams have met in the last 13 Sunset finals, and appear destined to meet again this season.
Centennial, led by West Virginia-bound point guard Bailey Thomas and younger sister Samantha Thomas, is 26-1 and ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today.
Gorman is 27-1 and ranked No. 25 by USA Today. The Gaels feature a trio of frontline players — Madison Washington (Oregon State), Megan Jacobs (Utah) and Raychel Stanley (Loyola Marymount) — who have signed with Division I schools.
Before they can focus on a championship showdown, the teams will have to get through Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Centennial hosts Shadow Ridge, and Bishop Gorman plays Cimarron-Memorial.
The Division I and I-A girls tournaments begin on Tuesday with the higher-seeded team hosting the games. The boys quarterfinals are Wednesday at host sites, and the Sunset and Sunrise finals will be on Friday. The Division I-A Southern championship games are Saturday.
Here’s a look at some of the other interesting story lines from the tournaments.
Sunrise Girls: Liberty (22-3) looks like a clear favorite, and the Patriots are going for a fourth consecutive crown. Liberty has won five titles in the last six seasons.
Sunrise Boys: Canyon Springs has won the last three titles, but the Pioneers (10-9) may find it difficult to repeat again. Canyon Springs was third in the Northeast League, and will have to play on the road in the first round at Eldorado (11-10). Southeast League champion Coronado (18-4) features a dynamic inside duo of 6-foot-8-inch Jake DesJardins and 6-6 Kennedy Koehler, and looks like the favorite. Then there’s Liberty, which was 3-23 last season. The Patriots (13-13) won the Northeast League title to earn a first-round home game and are looking to reach a region final for the first time since 2009.
Sunset Boys: Another Centennial-Bishop Gorman final seems to be on the horizon in this tournament. The Gaels (20-7) are the area’s top-ranked team, and haven’t lost to a Nevada school this season. Centennial (22-3) is ranked No. 2 in the area, and also hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent. Gorman senior center Zach Collins and Centennial junior point guard Troy Brown might be the two best players in the state. Durango, which had Gorman on the ropes in the regular-season finale Friday before falling 78-68, could challenge the favorites.
I-A Girls: Spring Valley had just one postseason appearance before last season, but the Grizzlies captured the state title and return standout sophomore guards Essence Booker and Kayla Harris.
I-A Boys: This tournament has always come down to Clark and Desert Pines, and those teams are the favorites again. They have met in the last three I-A region finals, with Clark winning two. But watch out for Faith Lutheran and Cheyenne, two teams that were tested in the rugged Sunset League.