Las Vegas Review-Journal
Southern teams lead way into state
Centennial girls chasing eighth consecutive title
The battle for the high school basketball state championships begins this week.
Class 4A begins with the boys and girls semifinals Tuesday at Cox Pavilion. 5A begins Friday with boys and girls semifinals at Cox Pavilion.
Ten teams will hoist state championship trophies. Here’s an outlook on how the tournaments shape up:
Durango is battle-tested after winning road playoff games against Bishop Gorman and Liberty. Its win Saturday over Liberty gave Durango the Southern League championship and No. 1 seed at state.
The Patriots have the best player in the tournament in junior point guard Dedan Thomas Jr. But Liberty will need to find scoring consistency with its other starters and get Durango to dive into its bench.
A rematch between the two seems likely for the state title. Given their recent success over Liberty — winning the past two meetings — give the Trailblazers the advantage.
It’s the same story, different year, as Centennial is favored to win its eighth straight title.
The Bulldogs rolled to another Southern Region title, winning each of their three playoff games by an average margin of 44.3 points. Coronado played well in the first half against Centennial on Friday, but the Bulldogs’ depth and pressure defense wore down Coronado in the second half.
If the Cougars get a rematch with Centennial, they will need to limit turnovers and get scoring from their entire lineup.
Reigning state champion Mojave faced a scare in its state quarterfinal game Thursday against Cheyenne. The Rattlers faced a halftime deficit but rallied for a 12-point win.
Mojave faces Rancho, which has averaged 93 points a game in its two playoff wins, in the semifinals. Las Vegas and Silverado play in the other semifinal. Las Vegas played Mojave tough in a 76-70 loss on Feb. 7.
Mojave has won 14 straight, and when its pressure defense is fully effective, it makes life difficult for opponents. Give the Rattlers a slight edge.
Favorite: Desert Pines
This was a toss-up between the Jaguars and Las Vegas. Desert Pines has held opponents to 29.8 points per game this season.
Desert Pines faces Palo Verde in the semifinals. The Panthers played another title contender, Las Vegas, tough in both regular-season meetings. Las Vegas has the best scoring duo in 4A with Layla Faught and Kayla Terry.
Desert Pines and Las Vegas should meet for the first time this season in the 4A title game.
Somerset-losee won the Southern League title with a 19-point victory over SLAM Academy. The Lions have given SLAM Academy two of its three losses this season.
Both Southern teams will have to endure playing in Reno, but Somerset-losee’s experience of playing for a state title last season will help it this time.
Moapa Valley and Pahrump Valley lost in the semifinals last season. The Pirates bested Pahrump Valley in the Southern League title game.
Fernley finished 29-9 and beat Southern schools Durango and Legacy this season. With the tournament in Reno, Fernley has a slight advantage.
The Meadows boys cruised to the title last season and are the top seed from the South. The Mustangs face Incline, whom they beat by 20 points in last season’s state title game, in the semifinals.
Democracy Prep qualified as the No. 2 seed from the South.
Democracy Prep is playing for assistant coach Mark Coleman, who died this month from prostate cancer.
On the girls side, reigning champion Incline did not qualify for state. Democracy Prep is looking for its first state title, while Needles is looking for its third title and first since 2017.
Green Valley Christian is the boys favorite after winning the state title last season and the Southern League title Friday.
In girls, GV Christian faces reigning champion Coleville in the quarterfinals.