Centennial shakes jitters, beats C. M. Wright, 45-41

December 09, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Centennial shook off first-game jitters, then made visiting C. Milton Wright look jittery with a hustling defense and an effective transition game that paved the way for a 45-41 victory in the girls basketball season opener yesterday at Centennial.

The Eagles stumbled out of the starting gate by committing 10 turnovers in the first quarter and trailed 9-0 midway through the period.

But Centennial turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter to close to two at halftime, then hung with the Mustangs (1-1) in a second half during which the lead changed hands nine times.

It wasn't until they broke a 39-39 tie with a 6-0 run during the final three minutes that the Eagles could rest.

"This was a tough game for the first game of the season, and I'm just glad we came out of it with a win," Centennial coach Beth Brown said. "Our first quarter always seems to be our toughest quarter. Sometimes, we put exceptional pressure on ourselves to perform in front of the home crowd. We're going to get over that."

The Eagles got over it quickly last night.

Despite losing forward Sheri Happel to foul trouble for much of the night, and despite a 20-point, eight-rebound, three-assist showing from 6-foot Mustangs center Stacey Milton, Centennial had the last word.

Nothing went our way in the second half," said Mustangs coach Gloria Liedlich.

Other than Milton, guard Amanda McCulloch gave the Mustangs their biggest lift, with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Besides getting some important minutes from Michelle Dugan -- who came off the bench for Happel -- Centennial had a more balanced attack.

Kristen Rennels led the Eagles with 13 points. Point guard Kelly Butler had 11 points and sparked the Eagles with five steals and six assists.

Dugan added seven points. Laura Taneyhill scored six.

The Mustangs may have lost the game by letting the Eagles come back quickly from a 13-4 deficit.

C. Milton Wright took a 21-19 lead into halftime, when McCulloch made four straight foul shots in the final minute.

The lead changed hands three times to start the second half. Centennial's well-executed half-court traps produced a 30-25 lead, before Milton scored six straight points.

DFinally, with the score tied at 39, Taneyhill followed her miss with a six-foot jumper. Rennels and Dugan both made one of two free throws, and, with 14 seconds left, Rennels made two foul shots to clinch the victory.

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