Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 | 2 a.m.
After leading the No. 1-ranked girls basketball team in the country by 11 after one quarter and by four at halftime, Centennial High let the game slip through its fingers.
The Bulldogs fell 66-59 to Paul VI Catholic High School on Saturday in the Art Turner Memorial tournament in Fairfax, Va.
It’s a feeling Centennial rarely has, ending a 24-game winning streak, and some wondered how the team would react.
The Bulldogs responded like champs, putting a 25-point beatdown on Our Lady of Good Counsel High School to close out the tournament before heading back to Las Vegas.
Sophomore forward Eboni Walker led the way with 19 points, making her this week’s Wingstop Player of the Week.
“It’s an honor and I owe it all to the coaches,” Walker said. “They’ve been coaching me up since the eighth grade so they taught me most of the skills that I know.”
Walker and the rest of the Bulldogs were on a mission after suffering a rare defeat.
“I don’t even know how to respond because we don’t lose that much, but it was a learning experience,” Walker said. “Even good teams lose, but I know we aren’t going to lose any more. That’s our only loss that we plan to have. “
Walker dominated in the paint, also grabbing 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
“She’s just an amazing athlete, but we have so many kids that are doing well for us this year and sometimes it just depends on what game it is,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “Eboni always brings that consistency for us around the basket. She’s a pretty good rebounder and a good scorer for us, and very good with the ball in the open court as well.”
As only a sophomore, Walker is the youngster on a roster stacked with future Division I players.
“It’s exciting but it’s also a growing process,” Weitz said. “She’s got to continue to be a good worker when it isn’t game time. Eboni loves games but sometimes doesn’t like practice so much. The maturity thing we are still working on, but she does stay with us year-round with our club program, so it’s good for her that she’s around the girls year round.”
The trip to Virginia was a welcome test for the Bulldogs, who usually have their way with in-state opponents. Centennial has won 37 straight games against Nevada opponents, and won its games by an average of 42.3 points last year.
“It just shows us how good of a team we are,” Walker said. “I feel like it’s a good experience to play against bigger teams and that’s why I like going out of state.”
Weitz said she wanted a rematch with Paul VI as soon as they walked off the court, and Walker and her teammates mirror their coach’s fiery attitude.
“I like playing against better teams and I feel like we should have beat the No. 1 team,” Walker said. “I want to have a rematch anytime.”
Wingstop awards the player of the week with a $50 gift card and shirt.