Is the third time a charm? The Centre High School girls’ basketball team surely hopes so.
Saturday was an exciting day for seniors Makenzie Deines, Amy Makovec, Cacey Simons, and Bryanna Svoboda and their teammates. They defeated Lebo 58-27 in the championship game of the 1A Division 1 substate tournament at Hartford to win a trip to the state tournament for the third consecutive year. They defeated Hartford 68-27 Friday in the semifinals.
“As well as we have played all season long and even in the last couple of seasons, I would say that this tournament was the best performance we have had,” coach Alan Stahlecker said. “We did everything well. We guarded well, got steals and rebounded well on the defensive end, and we handled the ball well, moved the ball well, moved well without the ball, made good passes at the right times, and shot the ball very well on the offensive end.”
The four seniors have been playing basketball together since they were in third grade. As eighth graders, their team went undefeated and won the league title. Deb Wiles was their coach.
Since the first trip to the state tournament in 2012, the team has improved its record every year. They were seeded eighth in 2012 and sixth in 2013 and did not advance. This year, with just three losses, they are seeded fourth and will face No. 5 Osborne at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at White Auditorium in Emporia. If they win, they will play at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game is at 4 p.m. Saturday. The third-place game is at noon Saturday.
The public is invited to a 3 p.m. pep rally Thursday at the school.
The Lady Cougars put on a stellar performance against Lebo. They got off to an 18-12 lead in the first quarter and built from there.
Simons opened scoring with a three-pointer. Lebo answered with a three of its own. Shelby Makovec, Amy Makovec, Deines, and Ally Basore all got in on the act to give Centre the lead. Simons ended the quarter with a three-point shot.
Well-rounded shooting in the second quarter gave Centre a 34-16 lead at halftime. The Lady Cougars outscored Lebo 24-11 in the second half to win, 58-27.
Simons led scoring with 17 points and had 10 rebounds. Shelby Makovec and Deines scored 14 points each. Amy Makovec had 9 points, and Basore had 4.
The Lady Cougars easily handled Hartford Friday. They led 19-6 after one quarter and never looked back, winning by 41 points. Simons became the fourth player in Centre girls history to pass the 1,000-point mark in scoring.
Shelby Makovec scored 26 points, and Amy Makovec had 12. Other scorers were Simons, 9; Basore, 8; Deines, 7; and Shelby Pankratz, Kailyn Riffel, and Callie Riffel, 2 points each.
Stahlecker said Centre and Osborne both have been state-ranked throughout the season, with Osborne usually rated a few spots higher than Centre all year.
He said they match up well but thinks Centre might be slightly quicker.
“Both teams can shoot the three-point shot, and both can score from inside,” he said. “I believe it will be a very competitive game. The team that executes their plan the best and is able to make shots at critical times will come out the winner.”