Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2014

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High school girls basketball powerhouses collide in Sunset finals

Bishop Gorman vs. Centennial is always the most significant game of the year

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Centennial basketball players, from left, Jade Brown, Shannon Brown, Ashley Klemz and Courtney Hayes.

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Playoff bracket breakdown

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss their way through the Sunrise and Sunset playoff brackets. They disagree on the early rounds, but come to a consensus on who will advance to the state championship.

The Bishop Gorman girls basketball team played one of its worst halves of the year in Thursday’s 61-39 victory against Palo Verde in the Sunset Region semifinals.

Before firing on all cylinders to take the Panthers out in the second half, the Gaels went into halftime with only a 19-18 lead.

“We came out flat and really on our heels,” Bishop Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “It was odd because I don’t know what we were thinking. We all just had that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

“Hopefully we got all of that out and we can bring it tomorrow.”

Krmpotich knows her team can’t survive tomorrow’s game if they have a repeat performance. Gorman meets Centennial in what is annually its most — and perhaps only — competitive in-state challenge.

The Gaels and the Bulldogs are the only two teams that reside on the Mount Olympus of Las Vegas high school girls basketball. The two programs have combined to win each of the last nine Nevada state championships.

Gorman took the title back last year after Centennial won it in 2009. Before that, Gorman had won three straight after Centennial captured all four from 2002 to 2005.

“The interesting thing with this team is there’s only a couple or three who have been in big games,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “The rest of them are young, they are freshmen and sophomores. I’ll just tell them to play like we do every day and practice like we do every day.”

That inexperience didn’t slow the Bulldogs in their semifinal matchup with Sierra Vista on Thursday. Behind a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds from Louisiana Tech-bound Courtney Hayes, Centennial throttled Sierra Vista 76-37.

That’s actually closer than the majority of Centennial’s games. The Mountain Lions became only the third Nevada team to stay within 40 points of the Bulldogs this season.

“I think the biggest thing is consistency right now,” Weitz said. “It’s just being able to play our style of ball and play it for a whole game so we can move on to the next game.”

Gorman’s dominance this season is just as pronounced. Last week, the Gaels beat a team 53-6. They won games earlier this season 77-13 and 71-20.

Krmpotich said she was glad those mismatches were finally out of the way.

“Everyone’s hyped for (Centennial),” Krmpotich said. “You have to have a rivalry. I like it. I liked it in high school, I liked it in college and I like coaching against it. It’s no fun coaching in blowout games. It really isn’t. We get nothing out of it.”

Gorman will have to find a way to contain a loaded Centennial roster. Hayes, Ashley Klemz, Jada Brown, Tamera Williams and Breanna Workman all average more than 10 points.

Zhane Dikes, who scored 18 points against Palo Verde and Amber Lane, who had 14, lead the Gaels. Bishop Gorman suffered a major loss earlier in the season when senior Chelsie Pitt went down with a knee injury.

The Gaels aren’t going to use that as an excuse. When it comes to the showdown with Centennial, there are no excuses.

“That’s our biggest rival, so we always have to be ready to play,” Dikes said. “Not to be cocky, but we’re coming out to win it.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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