For each of the last 13 seasons, Bishop Gorman and Centennial have met in the Sunset Region girls basketball championship game.
Never, though, have the two superpowers’ resumes been this strong.
Both ranked in the Top 25 nationally by USA Today, the Gaels (29-1) and Bulldogs (28-1) will face off for a 14th consecutive time in the region final at 5 p.m. Friday at Arbor View.
“It’s the first time we’ve both been ranked in the top 25,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “It’s going to be a fun battle. It always is a battle.”
Gorman advanced to the final with a 68-37 win over Desert Oasis on Thursday at Arbor View. Centennial moved on by routing Palo Verde, 90-45.
The teams are a combined 36-0 against Nevada teams this year, with only one of those games being decided by fewer than 22 points. Twenty-seven of the games were decided by 40 or more points.
“The ranking has been nice,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “It’s great for the state of Nevada that we finally get two ranked teams.”
The only blemish on Gorman’s record is a 74-69 loss to Bishop’s (California).
Centennial’s lone loss is to 10th-ranked Riverdale Baptist (Maryland). The Bulldogs routed 15th-ranked Mater Dei (California) and beat 18th-ranked Archbishop Mitty (California) and Chaminade (California), ranked No. 6 at the time of its game against Centennial.
“For us, it’s just a matter of you do what’s in front of you,” Weitz said. “You do what you have to do.”
The Bulldogs have won five straight region crowns and are 8-5 vs. Gorman in the current streak of meetings. There’s extra motivation for both teams this year as only the winner goes to the Division I state tournament, which begins next Thursday in Reno.
“That’s the sad part of the whole thing is that you’ve got the two best teams in the south, and one of these nationally-ranked teams doesn’t get to go to state,” Krmpotich said. “It’s a shame. I wish we could change it.”
Neither team has been tested since Gorman held off Liberty, 50-46 on Jan. 23.
Centennial blitzed Mater Dei, 70-45 on Feb. 5 in a game that was still close at the half before the Bulldogs opened the flood gates. Centennial has won 19 straight games by at least 25 points.
Thursday’s games were more of the same.
Senior post Raychel Stanley scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half and added 10 rebounds in the Gaels’ victory. Gorman led 42-19 at the half.
“She’s been out lately,” Krmpotich said of Stanley, who had three wisdom teeth pulled last week. “She ran the floor really well today.”
Megan Jacobs added 18 points for Gorman, which played without junior wing Skylar Jacobs, who Krmpotich said had food poisoning.
Ashlynn Sharp led the Diamondbacks (16-9) with 12 points.
In the second semifinal, Justice Ethridge scored 16 points in the first 6:10 of the game and had all 25 of her points in the first half as the Bulldogs built a 60-26 halftime lead and cruised by the Panthers.
Eboni Walker and Jayden Eggleston each added 12 points, and Pam Wilmore scored 10 for Centennial.
“We just need to do what we do best,” Weitz said. “I was happy with their effort tonight and happy with the way they started. But if you don’t have that excitement and adrenaline now, then I would really be worried.”
Brooklyn Cruz had 12 points, and Paulina Silcox added 10 points for Palo Verde (19-11).