The Centennial High girls basketball team earned the right to defend its 5A District Three Tournament championship behind ferocious defensive play.
The Patriots held Eagle to a single basket in the first quarter and created 19 turnovers in a 44-26 victory Saturday night at Eagle High that assures Centennial a spot in the eight-team state tournament Feb. 18-20 at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.
Centennial (21-2) faces defending state champion Mountain View (19-4) in the district title game at 7 p.m. Friday at Eagle. The Mavericks are the only Idaho team to beat the Patriots this season.
“It’s going to be a track meet,” Centennial coach Cassie Bro said of next week’s title game. “We’re going to be up and down the court. It’s going to be fun. It’s always a close game with Mountain View. It’s exciting. It’s really good for basketball.”
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Mountain View won the only meeting between the two teams this season, taking the lead in the final few minutes of the game for a 64-59 home victory Jan. 5.
CENTENNIAL’S KEY TO STATE SUCCESS
The Patriots won last year’s district title, but just the season before they failed to make the state tournament after a dominant regular season.
If Centennial hopes to win its first state championship since 2006, it will need to lean on its high-pressure defense and avoid the inconsistency that has cost it in the past.
The Patriots lost in the first round of last year’s state tournament and are eager to redeem themselves with five seniors on the roster.
“We know we still have tough games ahead of us in state, and our goal is to win the state championship,” said junior guard Tori Williams, who scored a game-high 11 points against Eagle. “We know we’ve got to go through tough teams, so we’ve just got to stick together.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR EAGLE?
The Mustangs (19-4), last year’s state consolation champions, aren’t out of the running for a state tournament berth. They will play Borah (15-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Boise High. The winner advances to state, while the loser drops into the district tournament’s fifth-place game.
District Three state qualifiers
These Valley teams have punched their tickets to the state tournament:
- 5A: Mountain View (19-4), Centennial (21-2)
- 3A: Weiser (11-10), Homedale (18-4)
- 2A: Cole Valley Christian (20-1), New Plymouth (17-4)
- 1A DI: Notus, Liberty Charter (19-2)