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April 16, 2014

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Centennial girls use pressure defense to drown Bishop Gorman in Sunset finals

Ashley Klemz scores 27 points and makes seven 3-pointers

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Justin M. Bowen

Simone Barber of Centennial rebounds over Bishop Gorman during the Sunset Regional girls basketball championship at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas Friday, February 18, 2011. Centennial won 82-50.

Sunset Regional Girls Basketball Championship

Centennial fans celebrate after defeating Bishop Gorman 82-50 for the Sunset Regional girls basketball championship at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas Friday, February 18, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Bishop Gorman vs. Centennial

KSNV coverage of Bishop Gorman vs. Centennial girls basketball, Feb. 18, 2011.

No matchup in girls high school basketball has created a collection of games more memorable than Bishop Gorman vs. Centennial over the past nine years.

Thursday’s Sunset Region championship between the two teams will not be remembered in the same category as previous meetings. Centennial exposed Bishop Gorman with its pressure defense en route to a statement 82-50 victory.

“It’s always a great game between us and Gorman,” Centennial coach Karen Weitz said. “I told the girls this is a one-time thing. If we were to play them again, it could be a totally different deal.”

Centennial and Gorman are likely to meet again in next week’s state championship. Centennial secured its spot in the state tournament with Friday’s victory, but Gorman can still get in if it beats Foothill in a play-in game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Del Sol High.

If the Sunset final was any indication, the Gaels have a long way to go before they can compete with the Bulldogs. Centennial forced 32 Bishop Gorman turnovers, with 23 of them coming in the first half.

“It was definitely our No. 1 concern,” Weitz said. “We knew if we could play defense, it would help create some easy baskets for us. We felt pressure-wise, if we could apply some pressure, it was something they may not be used to.”

Eleven minutes into the game, Centennial built a commanding 33-13 lead. The sharp shooting of senior guard Ashley Klemz was the reason.

Klemz made seven 3-point shots on the night and finished with 27 points.

“Once you hit the first couple, you keep doing it the whole game,” Klemz said. “I never stopped.”

Gorman seemed to sneak back into the game after halftime. The Gaels went on a 7-0 run to cut the score to 45-30 — momentarily.

Klemz put an end to any comeback thoughts by knocking down threes on each of Centennial’s next two possessions.

“That’s great for Ashley,” Weitz said. “She’s a senior and for a senior to come out and have a great game, you can’t be happier for a kid like that.”

The Bulldogs other senior standout also thrived. Courtney Hayes flirted with a triple-double and finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Hayes fed off of the hasty pace created by all of Centennial’s takeaways. Most of her points and assists came in transition.

“Our team is built on fast breaks,” Klemz said. “We like the fast pace.”

When the Gaels were able to settle down and run their offense, they found positive results as April Rivers had 21 points and Amber Lane contributed 11 points and six assists. Problem was, those opportunities were few and far between.

That’s why this game might miss making the vault of classics between Southern Nevada’s two dominant programs — except, of course, for Centennial players.

“It’s our rival, so it’s real nice,” Klemz said, “especially by that big of a difference.”

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

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  1. Is climbing back to within 15 really getting "back into the game?"