Los Angeles Preps: Corona Centennial boys basketball team

Inland Empire: SoCal Regional Finalist, Centennial

March, 17, 2011
ESPNLA is taking a closer look this week at the Inland Empire basketball teams that qualified for the Southern California Regional championships Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Today, the spotlight is on the Corona Centennial boys’ team, which plays Mater Dei in the Division 1 final at 8 p.m.


Located: Corona.

League: Big VIII.

Resume: The Huskies endured a challenging pre-league schedule, losing to Etiwanda in the championship game of the Rose City Classic in Pasadena, falling to San Diego Lincoln in the final of the Santa Monica tournament and losing a second-round game to Oakland Bishop O’Dowd in the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. As the only team from the I.E. entered in the National Division, the Huskies finished fifth after beating the state’s preseason top-ranked team, Woodland Hills Taft, in a fifth-place semifinal. Centennial stayed on course in the Big VIII League, posting double-digit victories in 12 of 14 games, and entered the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs seeded third behind Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei. After wins against Temecula Great Oak, Los Alamitos and Upland, the Huskies shocked Mater Dei with a 60-58 come-from-behind victory in a section semifinal at the Anaheim Convention Center. They couldn’t get past top-seeded Poly in the finals, however. Rematches with Westchester and Taft were the first hurdles in the regionals, and the Huskies passed those tests with ease and confidence. They aren’t getting the rematch with the Jackrabbits they envisioned, as Mater Dei upset Poly to earn its own rematch with Centennial. And those early-season losses for the Huskies? Turns out they weren't so bad after all. Etiwanda was a Division 1AA semifinalist and regional quarterfinalist but couldn't get past Poly either time. Lincoln is playing Fontana Summit in the Division 2 regional final, and Bishop O’Dowd reached the Division 3 final in the Northern California Regionals.

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Inland Empire and LA North: Centennial 94, Taft 81

March, 12, 2011

EASTVALE — The Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team dug a deep hole for Woodland Hills Taft in the opening five minutes of their Southern California Regional Division 1 semifinal Saturday and made sure the Toreadors didn’t see any daylight the rest of the way in the 94-81 victory at Roosevelt High.

“We knew we could get out on top of them early,” said Centennial senior guard Dominique Dunning. “Luckily, we’re hot.”

The second-seeded Huskies advanced to meet fourth-seeded Mater Dei in the regional championship game Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Mater Dei upset top-seeded Long Beach Poly, 72-55, on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Centennial, which beat the Monarchs last week in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal.

The rematch between Centennial and third-seeded Taft played out differently than when the teams met Dec. 29 in a fifth-place semifinal of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, but the result was the same. In the first meeting, the Huskies rallied from six points down at the start of the fourth quarter to win, 61-58.

The second time around, the Huskies surged to a 24-9 lead with 3 minutes 12 seconds still remaining in the opening quarter and didn’t allow Taft to get any closer than five the rest of the way.

Gelaun Wheelwright, coming off a 38-point performance in a quarterfinal victory Thursday against Westchester, scored 24 points to lead Centennial.

“The last three games, he’s making everything,” said Centennial coach Josh Giles. “He’s an unbelievable shot maker.”

Dunning contributed 21 points and nine rebounds and Michael Caffey had 17 points and 11 assists.

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