St. Marys sets up an early-season MHC showdown after coming back to beat Centennial

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - St. Mary's Tasia Bilbrew goes up for a layin over a crowd during the second half of Wednesday's 61-43 win over Centennial.

PORTLAND — A major upset appeared within reach Wednesday night when the Centennial girls basketball team went into the locker room with a one-point lead over No. 8-ranked St. Mary’s Academy.

But the host Blues hit their first five shots of the second half, prompting Centennial coach Jeff Stanek to call a quick timeout after St. Mary’s guard Martina McCowan hit a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line.

The brief break in the action did little to slow St. Mary’s, which went on to win 61-43. The Blues continued their onslaught by pounding the ball inside to 6-foot center Tyschal Blake. When Centennial’s defense sagged into the paint to surround Blake, the St. Mary’s guards were left with open looks around the perimeter.

“We went where we had the advantage in the second half, getting the ball into the post and making their defense work,” Blues’ coach Art Rojas said.

Unlike the first quarter when the Blues were blanked, going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc, the guards started connecting after the break.

McCowan led the charge with 11 points in the third quarter, finishing back-to-back fastbreaks and following that with a 3 from the corner to make it 50-32 Blues heading into the fourth quarter.

The win kept St. Mary’s (9-5) unbeaten in league play, heading into next week’s home clash against Mount Hood Conference rival Central Catholic (11-3). The loss ended a six-game win streak for Centennial (8-6).

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - St. Mary's center Tyschal Blake goes up to swat a Centennial attempt in the paint during the first half of Wednesday's home win.

The teams traded the lead five times before St. Mary’s ran away with it in the third period.

Centennial relied on the long ball early in the game, taking a 9-6 lead four minutes in when Megan Dailey swished a shot from two steps beyond the arc. The Eagles maintained the hot hand with 3s from Melissa Dailey and Leann Phanakhone for a 17-10 lead that prompted the Blues to call timeout late in the first period.

St. Mary’s dominated the boards, getting second chances on most possessions. The Blues took 12 more shot attempts in the first half, but Centennial stayed in the game with its accuracy. The Eagles were connecting at near a 50-percent clip and had knocked down five 3s — the last coming off the hand of Melissa Dailey to put Centennial ahead 28-27 at the break.

“They did a great job finding open looks, and they have shooters that can get the job done,” Rojas said.

McCowan led all players with 20 points, while Melissa Dailey paced Centennial with 11.

The Blues were without leading scorer Nae Torregano, who missed the game with strep throat, Rojas said.

View a photo gallery from the game at …

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