LAFAYETTE — After yet another outstanding regular season, the Centaurus girls basketball team had already guaranteed itself a third straight 18-plus win season when it entered the Class 4A postseason fray after a first-round bye on Friday night.

Despite amassing an impressive win total, however, the Warriors had yet to crack the Sweet 16 in any of its past two promising campaigns. They've came closer than ever to finally breaking through in their third, but are still searching for that elusive third-round postseason appearance.

Hosting the No. 22-seeded Lewis-Palmer Rangers (17-8), the No. 11 Warriors (20-4) overcame an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and saw a potential game-winning shot bounce high off the rim, resulting in a 34-33 loss and an end to their season.

"It's a good lesson that you have to play every possession as hard as you can," Warriors head coach Chris Mischke said. "They're a good team and we don't see size like theirs normally. Their size bothered us, and not to take anything away from them, but once we realized they're just basketball players, we started to play less timid. We had our opportunity to win and it turned out to be a good playoff basketball game."

The Rangers, who defeated Skyline in a low-scoring first round game on Tuesday, entered Friday's game looking to avenge a 43-36 loss to the Warriors in the first round of last year's state tournament. Their defense reflected that intention from the beginning of the game.


Advertisement

With more turnovers than points in the first half, the Northern League champion Warriors scored just four points in the first quarter and five in the second. Trailing 22-9 at halftime, the Warriors went on a quick 6-0 to open the second half but again found themselves trailing by double digits to start the fourth quarter.

Even with second leading scorer Riley Negrey fouling out with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left, the Warriors pulled within six points with 2:37 remaining. Junior Morgan Negrey hit a 3-pointer to trim the Rangers' lead to three with 1:27 left and Rachel Koeller stole the ball for a layup at the other end to make it 34-33 with 58 seconds left on the clock.

Inbounding the ball under their own basket with 11.6 seconds to tie or win the game, the Warriors got the ball to junior Brooke Calvo, whose deep contested 3-point attempt just missed off the back iron.

"They knew that their playoffs were on the line and they played hard," Mischke said. "A lot of teams if they're down 13 and can't score a lick in the first three quarters would pack it in. We just had to sell out and we did. I'm proud of the girls' effort and at least we gave them an exciting finish."

Centaurus junior Helen Gover (11.7 ppg) led the Warriors with eight points.

The Rangers will play No. 6 Evergreen in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday.

Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BradCochi

Lewis-Palmer 34, Centaurus 33

At Centaurus H.S.

LEWIS-PALMER (17-8)

Crisler 0 0-0 0, Boone 0 0-0 0, Blowe 5 2-2 13, Hovasse 1 2-3 4, Tucker 4 4-8 12, Enget 0 0-0 0, Cassidey 2 1-1 5. Totals 12 9-14 34.

CENTAURUS (20-4)

Gover 3 0-0 8, Koeller 3 0-0 6, Mischke 0 0-0 0, M. Negrey 3 0-0 7, Calvo 1 0-0 2, Licata 3 0-0 6, R. Negrey 0 2-2 2, Anderson 0 0-0 0, West 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 2-2 33.

Score by quarters:

Lewis-Palmer 13993—34

Centaurus 451113—33

3-point field goals — Lewis-Palmer (1): Blowe; Centaurus (3): Calvo 2, M. Negrey. Total fouls — Lewis-Palmer 9, Centaurus 14. Fouled out — R. Negrey.