Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 | 10:40 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer fill out their brackets for the Sunset and Sunrise regional tournaments.
At halftime, the game between Centennial and Durango was playing out the way many thought it would. Centennial went on a substantial run in the second quarter to build a double-digit lead over a talented, but outgunned Durango team, and a Bulldog win was more than certain.
That mentality changed after the Trail Blazers reeled off a big run of their own to start the second half, and even the game up.
The Bulldogs didn't do any scoreboard checking or walking down the court. They kept their composure, proving why they are one of the favorites to win the Division I state championship.
Centennial brushed off the third-quarter Durango run and went on one of their own as part of a 73-60 victory Tuesday in the first round of the Sunset Regional tournament.
“We’ve had teams go on runs on us before,” said Malcolm Allen, who scored 30 points. “We buckled down on defense, and it trailed into our offense.”
Malcolm’s twin brother, Marcus, led all scorers with 31 points. The Stanford-bound twins also had 34 of the team’s 38 first-half points.
“We know we have two scorers on the team,” said Austin Turley, who scored four points. “A lot of our points come from those two.”
Centennial draws Arbor View in the Sunset Regional semifinals, which will be held at Durango High School. While the Aggies are the No. 1 seed from the Northwest, the Bulldogs will likely be the favorite entering Thursday’s contest.
“We’ll get right back at it on Thursday,” said Centennial coach Todd Allen.
After a nip-and-tuck first quarter that saw the two teams deadlocked at 18, the Bulldogs upped their defensive intensity.
The Trail Blazers struggled to get going, not scoring a basket until a Paris Estrada layup with 1:40 left in the quarter.
“The first four minutes are key,” Marcus said. “We had to come out real strong, and we did. We got the lead back up.”
Credit Durango. The players could have collectively thrown their hands up and said, “It’s not our night,” after a dismal second quarter in which they could muster only six points — all coming in the final 100 seconds of the quarter.
Then the Trail Blazers caught fire to open the third quarter. The same looks that weren’t falling moments earlier started to hit the bottom of the net.
The 14-point halftime advantage of the Bulldogs evaporated, thanks to a 16-2 run that spanned close to six minutes.
As if to say, “OK, enough’s enough,” Marcus Allen answered the trey with a traditional three-point play of his own after driving hard to the basket. Moments later, his brother got into the picture delivering a rim-rattling dunk to help the Bulldogs reestablish their lead behind a 9-0 run at the end of the third quarter.
“It’s all instinctive,” Malcolm said of the twins’ ability to take over games.
With a nine-point lead in hand, the Bulldogs were revitalized and coasted their way into semifinals.
Malcolm Allen went 11-for-13 with a perfect 4-for-4 showing from 3-point territory. Marcus Allen went 9-for-11 from the field with a pair of treys and pulled down 13 rebounds. Marcus also made frequent trips to the foul line, arriving at the charity stripe 16 times and hitting 11.
“We have two of the best players in the state on our team. Maybe on the West Coast,” Turley said.
The Trail Blazers (14-12) had four players score in double figures. Dartangan Rollins and Tyler Watts each scored 14, while Estrada had 12. Chris Mellor added 11 for Durango.