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Centennial boys allow 12 points in second half, beat Poly 50-34

The Centennial boys basketball team started slow against visiting Poly in Wednesday's Class 3A East Region Section I semifinal.

The No. 10 Eagles had uncharacteristic turnovers, missed shots and let the Engineers control the boards and pace of the first half.

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That all dramatically changed by the middle of the third quarter.

Centennial went on a 19-0 run covering 10:15 of the second half to turn a seven-point deficit into a comfortable lead. The Eagles held Poly to just 12 points in the half to secure a 50-34 win that sends them on to the next round of the region playoffs.

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Centennial (21-2) will next host defending Class 3A state champion City — a 58-53 winner over Digital Harbor on Wednesday — for the Section I title. Last year, senior-heavy City came away with a 81-45 win over Centennial on its way to completing a perfect season.

Unable to find their offensive rhythm against Poly (10-11), the Eagles made things happen on defense and let the offense take care of itself in the pivotal second half. Isaiah White scored a game-high 16 points — including seven straight to start the fourth quarter — as the Eagles took hold of a game they once trailed by as many as eight points.

Down 28-21 with 5:13 to play, Connor Clemens scored a follow basket to start the 19-0 run. It featured offensive rebounds, steals, layups and stifling defense as the Engineers struggled to find their mark as their season frustratingly slipped away.

"We gave up 12 points in the second half," Centennial coach Chad Hollwedel said. "Our defense led to some run outs for us, a little transition, and then we started executing in the half court against their man [defense]. Doing a better job on the boards, controlling their run outs — we forced them into tougher shots that didn't go — 12 points in the half, I'll take it."

Centennial got 10 points from Chad Strothers and 12 from Tom Brown, while Poly got 10 points from Marcel Thompson.

In the next round on Friday, it will be Centennial with the senior-laden team and home court advantage when it meets No. 11 City.

"They're coming up here, we know what we're in for," Hollwedel said. "We're looking forward to just playing one team at a time — it doesn't really matter who it is, we're just trying to be 1-0 at the end of the night."

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