Centennial girls basketball team rolls past King in Big VIII League opener – Press Enterprise

RIVERSIDE — Centennial girls basketball coach Martin Woods can mix up his lineup however he wants, but the Huskies always will have five guards on the court.

“Even our ‘big girl’ (5-foot-9 Layla Curry) is really a guard,” Woods said. “We don’t have the size of other teams, obviously, so we have to use our strengths to get the upper hand.”

And in the case of Centennial, that means speed and quickness at both ends of the floor.

Centennial created havoc on defense, forcing 28 turnovers Tuesday evening. The Huskies converted those turnovers into fast-break points and cruised to a 78-39 victory over King in a Big VIII League opener..

Londynn Jones scored a game-high 18 points, for Centennial, which is the No. 4 team in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings. Jayda Curry and Sydni Summers added 14 points apiece for the Huskies (3-0) .

Centennial vs. King has been one of the most intense girls basketball rivalries in the Inland area in recent years. King won six of eight meetings between the 2017 and 2020 seasons. This year’s matchup, however, was a bit lopsided. King suffered a key loss to graduation. Centennial returned most of its roster, and added another piece in the UCLA-committed Jones.

“I was a little worried that we might come out lethargic after two big wins last week,” Woods said. “(King coach Jesus) Martinez always has his team prepared and ready to go.”

King (5-1) matched Centennial nearly shot for shot during the first seven minutes of Tuesday’s game. Jordan Arreola and Airricka Holmes each knocked down a 3-pointer, and Alexis Mead converted an and-1 to get the Wolves within 15-14 late in the first quarter.

Centennial closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run and extended that lead to double digits with a 12-4 run to open the second quarter. Holmes sank a pair of 3-pointers to get King within 10 with 2:37 remaining in the second quarter, but Centennial closed the first half with a 13-1 run.

The Huskies continued to apply the pressure, forcing King into 12 turnovers during the second quarter alone. Centennial outscored King 24-6 in the third quarter to pull away.

“We put a bigger emphasis on defense,” said Jayda Curry, who has signed with Cal. “We started off a bit slow on defense today. Once we started pressuring the ball more, we got things turned around.”

Centennial showed great ball movement on offense, making extra passes to open shooters.

“When Londynn came over (from Santiago), some people wondered if there was enough ball to go around,” Woods said. “These girls want each other to be successful, so it hasn’t been an issue. If anything, we can be guilty of overpassing the ball at times.”

Holmes scored 13 points to lead King. Arreola had eight points, and Mead added seven.

Trinity San Antonio scored nine points and Layla Curry finished with eight points for Centennial.

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