LAS VEGAS – All season, the undersized Bishop Manogue girls basketball team terrorized Northern Nevada opponents with quickness, defense and shooting.
Friday, the Miners ran into a bigger version of themselves, the nationally-ranked Centennial Bulldogs, and saw their dream of a state title end with a 97-52 loss at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.
Manogue finished the season with a 26-3 record, while the Bulldogs, 30-2, celebrated their ninth state championship since 2001-02. The win was the 57th straight against a Nevada opponent.
The Bulldogs’ Justice Ethridge set a state 4A record with six 3-point field goals, and the Bulldogs broke their own state scoring record of 90 points.
“We had the deer in the headlights look,” Manogue coach Carlnel Wiley said. “That makes you play uncomfortable. I tried to calm them down. When you have length and quickness, holy cow. We did what we could, but that’s a great team over there.”
No doubt. The Bulldogs entered the tournament ranked fourth in the country by USA Today. Over the last two years, only two teams have stayed within 40 points of Centennial. The Bulldogs’ two losses came back in December.
Centennial coach Karen Weitz was asked which of her nine titles stood out the most.
“It’s crazy,” Weitz said. “Probably the first one, because it had been 20 years since a south team had won. We went OT a couple of times, had some last-second free throws (to win).
“Definitely the quality of players we have here. The fact that they are coachable, listen and understand the game (is key).”
The Miners had to play uphill the entire game, and never led which is a rarity for them. That’s how good Centennial is.
Centennial went up 9-0 in the first two minutes en route to a 24-12 lead at the end of the opening period. Mel Isbell and Justice Ethridge (24 points) knocked down early 3-pointers to spark the opening run.
The Miners’ Kenna Holt (12 points) broke the drought with five straight points, but Manogue would never get closer than four because it was unable to defend the talented Bulldogs, who led 24-12 after one despite Manogue shooting a respectable 5-for-11 from the field.
Centennial led 54-26 at the half following a 30-point second quarter. The Miners had no answer for Ethridge, who had 22 at the half. A 17-5 run in the third quarter made it 49-23. Ethridge capped her run with her record-setting sixth trey of the half.
Samantha Tomas added 19, Jayden Eggleston 17 and Eboni Walker 10.
“I call her (Ethridge) the silent assassin,” Weitz said. “I say that all of the time. She has so many weapons in her arsenal you don’t even know, and shooting is just one of them. She can get to the basket and defend.”
Not to be overlooked was Centennial’s defense. The Bulldogs held Manogue to 28 percent shooting from the floor, including 22 percent on 3-point attempts.
The Miners tried to be aggressive and go to the basket, but Centennial, unofficially had 11 blocked shots. When the outside shots aren’t falling with regularity and you get 11 shots blocked, it’s going to be a long night.
“Our focus was stopping the Holts and Katie (Turner),” Weitz said. “If we could stop them we’ll take our chances with the others. We have some girls who can score, but we really hone in on defense.”
Malia Holt added 11 and Turner, who is headed to Davidson, finished with nine.
Don’t feel too sorry for the Miners, who return several players next year, including Kenna Holt, Julia McElwee, Ashley Sprouse, Kelsey Sprouse and Hannah Reviglio.
Wiley said it will take a lot of hard work to be able to match up with teams like Centennial moving forward. “A lot of it is in the summer,” he said. “You have to put in the extra work and develop your craft; work on your skills.”
In the 4A boys state championship, Gorman edged Clark, 60-58.