LAFAYETTE — Like the old commercials for Wrigley's Doublemint gum, Wednesday's girls basketball victory was double the pleasure and double the fun for Centaurus' Imani Licata and Hayley Anderson.
The Warriors' lone seniors started out the evening being celebrated as individuals, but by the end of their team's 62-25 victory over Silver Creek at the CHS gym, the pair were able to partake in another celebration for the team — that of cutting the nylon as Northern League champions.
With just one more game to go against Thompson Valley on Friday, Centaurus assured themselves of at least a league tie with Greeley Central record-wise, but the Warriors (19-3 overall, 12-1 Northern) own two head-to-head victories over the Wildcats. So, Wednesday's celebration was perfect in every way.
"I'm just so thrilled for my team because we played as a team, and it made for an awesome night," said Licata, who led all scorers with a career-most 23 points.
Centaurus looked the entire evening like a team that sniffed out a optimal opportunity to celebrate at home. The Warriors were tough defensively with their full-court pressure, while at the same time being pretty patient on offense to get the right looks.
Often those looks came inside, and often Licata was on the scoring end of things.
She had 14 points in the first half, and 10 of those came in a second quarter in which CHS mounted a 36-7 advantage on the Raptors (4-19, 3-11). Morgan Negrey also had a huge first half with 10 points, showing her inside-outside combo game with a pair of 3-pointers and a couple more short field goals.
"When we get the ball inside, we're a much better team and I think the girls are starting to figure that out," said Centaurus head coach Chris Mischke, whose team has won back-to-back league championships and should get a first-round home playoff game and hopefully more. "I gotta tell you, it was a pretty complete game we played tonight.
"We've been trying to get Imani in the low block all season, and I think she's realizing she can be the best player in our league in there when she wants to go in and be there. She had a big game tonight."
"We had a game plan and we just knew exactly what we wanted to do and how we were going to approach the night," Licata said. "I wanted to bring it into the paint and just bring the energy. If we get going and we work for each other, we can be really good."
Silver Creek was led by Liz Salmeron's 11 points, and Colleen Tyrell added nine with some toughness inside. The Raptors were without senior captain Parker Nicholas (injured), and that influenced the play around the basket quite a bit.
The Raptors also had 32 turnovers and were out-rebounded 30-24 in the game.
Centaurus 62, Silver Creek 25
At Centaurus HS
SILVER CREEK (4-19, 3-11)
Salmeron 3 4-4 11, Tyrell 3 3-6 9, James 0 1-4 1, McCaffrey 0 2-3 2, Hebert 0 2-2 2. Totals 6 12-19 25.
CENTAURUS (19-3, 12-1)
Calvo 3 0-0 6, Licata 9 5-6 23, Gover 3 0-0 8, M. Negrey 5 0-0 13, Mischke 2 2-2 6, Koehler 0 1-3 1, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Martinez 0 2-4 2, Taylor Preston 0 1-2 1. Totals 23 11-17 62.
Score by quarters:Silver Creek 2 5 12 6 — 25
3-point field goals — Silver Creek (1): Salmeron; Centaurus (5): M. Negrey 3, Gover 2.