The Centennial High boys basketball team entered its battle with Mountain View on Friday with one decisive advantage — size.
But the Patriots’ 6-foot-8 center, Connor Desaulniers, played fewer than two minutes in the first half and 10 minutes overall due to foul trouble, taking away one of their top weapons.
Kendall Williams poured in 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Delveion Jackson added 16 points and five rebounds as Centennial pulled away for a 51-32 victory at home.
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“That’s the thing about this group,” Centennial coach Josh Aipperspach said. “I’ve got guys that step up all the time. Losing the big guy hurts, but my guys battled. I know that they will, and I know I got guys coming off the bench that will get it done.”
Conference-leading Centennial (12-2, 8-1 5A SIC) held a one-point lead on Mountain View (9-4, 6-3) at halftime and a four-point lead entering the fourth. The Patriots outscored the Mavericks 18-3 in the final eight minutes.
Despite nine first-half turnovers, Mountain View hung in the game by shooting 53 percent from the field before the break. Centennial turned to its 1-3-1 zone defense to start the third quarter, holding Mountain View to 17 percent shooting and eight points in the second half.
The Mavericks pulled the ball out to half court, trying to bait Centennial out of its set while trailing by one. But the Patriots stood firm, forcing Mountain View to contend with its zone defense.
It couldn’t, shooting 17 percent in the second half as Centennial ran away.
“Defensively, we have length, and so we want to utilize that to the best of our ability,” said the 6-5 Jackson, who manned the top of the zone. “It’s hard for teams to get around that, especially at the top and down low.”
Jackson scored six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. He provided Centennial its largest boost with a thunderous dunk before halftime.
With the Patriots mired in an offensive slump and trailing for the only time outside of 2-0 to start the game, Jackson, Williams and Talon Pinckney pressured Tyler Brotherson at halfcourt. Jackson scooped up the loose ball, broke free of his defender and threw down a one-hand dunk, drawing the foul and converting the free throw.
“I just got the ball and put my eyes to the rim,” Jackson said. “I had one target, and that was to dunk it. I didn’t think twice about it. I knew it was going in. I knew I had it.”
The victory keeps Centennial in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference lead. Centennial and Borah have 8-1 conference records, but the Patriots own a head-to-head victory from the first of two meetings with Borah. The second is Feb. 4 at Centennial.