No. 8 Centennial quickly and assuredly asserted their dominance over JW North in the Husky vs. Husky showdown at Corona High School. The North Huskies held a formidable push against Centennial in the first quarter, behind by just one point. UCLA signee Jalen Hill quickly changed the tide in the second quarter, only letting North score 9 points while Centennial scored 25 points themselves. This lead allowed Centennial to dominate for the remainder of the game with relative ease, leaving the scoreboard, 73-57, at the buzzer.
In the first quarter, North’s Mason Westlake and Melvin Walker stood out as they kept up with Centennial’s Jaylen Clark and Hill.
Walker scored 24 points with four assists while Westlake scored 12 points with two assists.
The Centennial Huskies sped down the court, though, was ultimately their biggest strength, as North was unable to keep up with the fast plays.
Commenting on the slow start, Hill said, “Sometimes we have that in games, where we start out sluggish, [second quarter] we just started playing our type of basketball. It’s really hard for a lot of teams to catch up.”
Centennial did very well with their transitions, as they kept the ball moving back and forth as they went up and down the court. North didn’t run many plays because the Huskies kept them on the move, unable to focus.
North’s small shot at redemption was redeemed as North’s Jae Williams sprung the ball free from Centennial and threw down a dunk on Hill.
Isom Butler, who scored 9 points for Centennial and had 15 assists, also critical for the defense, commented on the start saying, “It was just a matter of time until we got our press. Everyone’s nerves were flowing, had butterflies. After that it was a wrap.”
Centennial’s Gio Nelson led the Huskies scoring 21 points and one assist, while Hill, whose defense was critical to the win, trailed closely behind with 19 points and one assist.
North coach Mike Bartee was very nonchalant and matter-of-fact about the day’s loss.
“They got after us and we didn’t have ourselves covered very well. Once you start playing from behind it’s a different game. They were relentless, big kids that caused some problems. They got us to play their game,” Bartee said.
After the game, both teams were optimistic about the future of their season and CIF playoffs.
We’re gonna go back to practice and just get better. We have a pretty young team but we fought hard today. [I’m hoping] that this year will be a repeat of last year’s CIF championship and then we can build on where they left off,” said Westlake.
Centennial’s Butler said, “We just have to keep it going. We lost our last conference game but from here on out we just have to close out games and finish strong. We are in the Open Division playoffs. Hopefully we’ll make a run for it, go to quarterfinals, semi’s and then the championship. That is our goal.”