Three minutes into her team’s semifinal game Monday, Centennial girls basketball coach Karen Weitz had pulled three of her starters.
Unlike many games, it wasn’t because the host Bulldogs were in the process of building a big lead. The Bulldogs, instead, were in the process of digging a hole too deep to get out of.
Centennial stumbled out of the starting blocks and lost 54-42 to West Torrance (Calif.) in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
“When you don’t come out ready to play and you get down in the first quarter, it’s tough,” Weitz said. “The other quarters were fine. You’ve got to come out ready to throw the first blow in the first quarter. They didn’t come out ready to play, and I don’t know why.”
Simone Barber and Tramina Jordan hit early baskets to give Centennial a quick 4-3 lead, but the Warriors scored the next 14 points and held a 22-9 lead after one quarter.
Centennial committed nine of its 18 turnovers in the first quarter, causing Weitz to try several different combinations of players and burn three timeouts.
“The key to every game is the first and third quarters, period,” Weitz said. “The starters that have been with me for three or four years need to get it together. They need to come out and do what they’re supposed to do and what they know to do. They can’t be the ones with four turnovers and no other stats.
“If your starters don’t want to do that, how can your bench people come on the floor and all of a sudden give you brilliant numbers?”
Though the Bulldogs threatened on several occasions, they never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
Jordan’s steal and three-point play with 3:58 to go cut Centennial’s deficit to 44-40, but the Warriors rattled off seven straight points. The Bulldogs missed three layups during the run, effectively ending their chance to rally.
Hayley Tanabe hit three 3-pointers and had 12 of her 16 points in the first quarter for West Torrance. Jasmine Jones and Kayla Sato each added 12 points for the Warriors.
Jordan led Centennial with 13 points, and teammate Teirra Hicks added 11 points. Both players were named to the all-tournament team. Among those joining them were Arbor View’s Dana Lewis, Foothill’s Taylor Turney and Liberty’s Kealy Brown.
Liberty 71, San Clemente (Calif.) 52 — Paris Strawther had 18 points to help the Patriots top the Tritons.
Raevyn Allen added 14 points, and Brown scored 11 for Liberty, which held a 29-22 lead at the half, but expanded it to 54-35 after three quarters.
Jessica DeGree had 23 points, and Kathleen Hartman added 10 points for San Clemente.
Foothill 52, University (Calif.) 48 — Turney scored 15 of her 25 points in the second half to help the Falcons hold on for a win over the Trojans.
Emily Reiland had 20 points, and Dana Bossenmeyer added 14 points for University.
Culver City (Calif.) 40, Arbor View 39 — Kailey Tooke hit 1 of 2 free throws with five seconds left as the Centaurs nipped the Aggies.
Arbor View rallied from a 24-6 halftime deficit to tie the game at 39-39 on Ariona Gill’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 20 seconds left before Tooke hit the winning free throw.
Tooke finished with 19 points, and Kelsey Ueda scored 10 for Culver City.
Gill had 16 of her 18 points in the second half, and Lewis added 15 points for Arbor View.
Granite Hills (Calif.) 52, Desert Pines 32 — Deajanae Harvey had 17 points to lead the Eagles by the Jaguars.
Micayela Hernandez added 15 points for Granite Hills.
Adrianne Jackson led Desert Pines with 10 points.
Santa Fe (Calif.) 50, Palo Verde 49 — Vivian Lara scored all 21 of her points after halftime to lead the Chieftains by the Panthers in overtime.
Natalie Garcia added 13 points for Santa Fe, which trailed 29-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn Cruz had 23 points for Palo Verde.