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March 24, 2017

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Clark hangs on to oust Centennial, Troy Brown Jr. from playoffs

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L.E. Baskow

Clark forward Antwon Jackson (23) battles with Centennial guard Troy Brown (0) for a loose ball as Centennial forward Darian Scott looks on during their Sunset Region semifinals game, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

Clark Edges Centennial

Clark guard James Bridges (15) elevates for a shot over Centennial forward Jamaal Evans (42) during their Sunset Region semifinals game on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Launch slideshow »

The Clark and Centennial High basketball teams battled to the very end in the Sunset Region semifinal Thursday night at Shadow Ridge.

Neither team led by double digits at any point as the Chargers and Bulldogs went back and forth in front of a packed house. The school bands dueled and fans screamed as their respective teams hit big shot after big shot.

But in the game's final seconds, the gym went silent.

With his team trailing by three, Centennial senior and McDonald's All-American Troy Brown Jr. rose up and fired a 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime.

Those in attendance could only watch as Brown's shot arched towards the rim, but just as his buzzer-beater in last year's regional final against Bishop Gorman, the shot rimmed out.

"When the shot went up I was scared," Clark junior Trey Woodbury said. "My stomach dropped when it went up. I was just standing in the corner praying that it didn't go in."

The Chargers held on to win 50-47 to move on to the Sunset Region championship game on Saturday.

In his first year as head coach at Clark, Colin Darfour is one game away from leading the Chargers to their first ever state tournament appearance in the 4A Division.

"When the ball was in the air my heart probably stopped for the three or four seconds it took for it to land," Darfour said. "I couldn't be more proud of the guys and happy for the opportunity we have this Saturday."

Clark struggled early, not scoring its first points until 5:23 into the game. Centennial raced out to a 9-0 lead behind an early scoring outburst by Brown.

"We kept saying as a coaching staff to just grind it out," Darfour said. "We felt like as a staff that this game was going to be decided on defense, so our game plan was to guard Troy (Brown) as best as humanly possible and I think we did that."

Brown scored seven points in the first quarter but only eight more over the final three.

"We just kept switching and keeping the freshest body on him at all times," Woodbury said.

Clark guards Ian Alexander and Jalen Hill took turns guarding Brown and frustrated the Oregon commit throughout the game.

The game was tied 17-17 after a low scoring first half before Clark took control early in the third quarter.

"We went into the locker room and asked each other if we wanted to go home tonight," Woodbury said. "We came out and got off to a fast start and then kind of held that lead for the rest of the game."

Woodbury set the tone defensively with a vicious block on Centennial big man Darian Scott and offensively with timely 3-pointers and dunks. He finished with a team-high 20 points.

Antwon Jackson controlled the boards for Clark and added nine points of his own.

After finishing the first half scoreless, Centennial guard Isaiah Banks scored 11 points in the second half (and nine in the fourth quarter) to try to bring the Bulldogs back but fell just short.

With the loss Brown's high school school career will end without an appearance in the state title tournament as he heads to Oregon.

Clark will take on the winner of Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran in the Sunset Region final at 6 p.m. Saturday. The winner earns an automatic spot in the state tournament next week while the loser plays the runner-up from the Sunrise Region for the final spot in the tournament.

"It feels good but we still have to get this win on Saturday so that we don't have to go through the tougher path," Woodbury said.

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