Girls basketball games between Bishop Gorman and Centennial tend to follow the plot of a good mystery.
There are twists and turns, strong protagonists and even late in the story the outcome is usually in serious doubt.
In the Sunset Region final at Desert Oasis on Friday, Centennial gave away the ending early by forcing the Gaels to give the ball away often.
The Bulldogs forced 25 first-half turnovers and senior guard Ashley Klemz made seven 3-pointers to help Centennial turn the rivalry into a rout, cruising to an 82-50 victory over the Gaels.
Centennial (30-1) advanced to the state semifinals Thursday at the Orleans Arena. Gorman (23-6) will meet Foothill in a play-in game to decide the final state berth at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Del Sol.
“It’s always a great game between us and Gorman, and like I just told the girls, this is a one-time thing,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “If we were to play them again, it could be a totally different game.”
The last eight region finals between Gorman and Centennial had been decided by an average of nine points and five times by six or fewer points.
This time, Centennial’s lead never dipped below double figures after the first minute of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs jumped into passing lanes, sped up the Gaels’ offense and forced turnovers at an alarming rate in the first half, expanding a 13-9 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter to 33-13 before the midpoint of the second.
“(Defense) was definitely our No. 1 concern,” Weitz said. “We knew if we could come out and play defense, it would help create some easy baskets.”
Gorman managed only 19 field-goal attempts in the first half. Of its 44 first-half possessions, it scored on only 11, trailing 45-23 at the break.
Though the Gaels trimmed their turnovers to four in each of the final two quarters, their first-half sloppiness was too much to overcome.
“Turnovers killed us,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “We dribbled all over the place. You can’t win ballgames when you’re playing one on one.”
Any time the Gaels began to claw back, Klemz knocked them right back down. On her way to 27 points, she shot 7-for-13 on 3-pointers, and almost every one was a dagger through the Gaels’ hearts.
“Once you hit the first couple, you just start feeling it the whole game,” Klemz said. “I never stopped feeling it.”
Gorman scored the first seven points of the second half to get within 45-30 before Klemz hit a 3 to kill its momentum.
The Gaels got within 51-39 on April Rivers’ transition basket with 3:03 left in the third, but Centennial’s Courtney Hayes hit a pull-up jumper, Klemz made another 3 and Gorman never recovered.
“That’s great for Ashley,” Weitz said. “If Ashley hits her first few shots, you better look out, because she is ready to play.”
Hayes added 14 points and eight rebounds for Centennial, Denajha Kie scored 12 off the bench and Shannon Brown grabbed 10 rebounds.
Rivers led Gorman with 21 points. Amber Lane scored 11 and Zhane Dikes had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Gaels, who had only six offensive rebounds.
“We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves on Tuesday and get better,” Krmpotich said. “It’s a learning process.”