STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 | 9 p.m.
Centennial’s Jada Brown knew why her team had lost to Bishop Gorman twice this season by a combined four points.
It had nothing to do with talent or anything with physical attributes, but rather intangibles.
“If you look at us and size us up, we’re the better team,” Brown said. “They just came with heart and wanted the first two times with us. That’s pride.”
Playing with pride, meaning dominating the rebounding battle. That’s what Brown did.
The Kansas-bound senior grabbed 17 rebounds (10 offensive) to help the Bulldogs pick up a 67-35 victory over their archrival Friday in the Sunset Regional championship game at Durango High School.
Centennial outrebounded Gorman 57-39 with a 27-11 advantage on the offensive glass. The other two games this season — decided by one point and three points respectively — had closer rebounding margins. Gorman outrebounded Centennial 71-65 in the two games, which could explain why the games were tighter than the one Friday.
“Don’t think those stat sheets weren’t highlighted in yellow with what they did not do the first two times (against Gorman),” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said.
Playing with full effort wasn’t just limited to rebounding. It was also stressed on the defensive end.
For example, during one play in the second quarter, New Mexico State-commit Tamera Williams played looser than what Weitz was expecting and quickly called for a player to pull Williams over to the bench for a quick word.
The result of the play was a turnover, but Weitz wasn’t accepting anything less than 100 percent. Williams came in a few seconds later after hearing a few words from the coaching staff.
“It’s hard to get maximum effort,” Weitz said. “All I could do is challenge them.”
Teirra Hicks (12 points), Paige Barber (11 points) joined Brown in double figures, while Williams added eight.
With the win, Centennial advances to the state semifinal game, looking for its first state championship since 2011. Last season ended in disappointment for the Bulldogs, losing in the state semifinals to Reno.
“Hopefully, they’ll learn something from last year and come ready to play is the bottom line,” Weitz said. “No matter who they get, it’s going to be a hell of a game.”
Things got out of hand quickly for the Gaels in the second quarter.
The Gaels lost rebounding machine Raychel Stanley to two quick fouls. As if losing Stanley wasn’t enough, April Rivers was lost after she picked up her third foul late in the first quarter.
Rivers sat out the entire second quarter, while Stanley played bits and pieces of the second. The Bulldogs took advantage with a 17-5 run, giving the Bulldogs a 37-18 advantage at the half.
Rivers played the remainder of the game, finishing with nine points. Her backcourt mate Tonishia Childress scored seven, while Megan Jacobs scored a team-high 12 points.
The Gaels are set to play Canyon Springs in a play-in game Monday at Del Sol High School, and Brown wouldn’t be surprised if Centennial and Gorman met again for a fourth time.
“We’ll probably see them again,” Brown said.