EASTVALE — Centennial boys basketball coach Josh Giles knows records and rankings have to be thrown whenever his team squares off against Roosevelt.
“We get a battle every time we play them,” Giles said of the rivalry against the Mustangs the past decade.
“I love the atmosphere and energy of these games because it gets you ready for the playoffs. You have to come to play and earn every win over them.”
Centennial trailed for the majority of the first quarter, but the Huskies got their offense rolling in the second quarter and eventually pulled away for a 76-52 win Thursday evening, extending the program’s Big VIII League winning streak to 58 games.
Duke-bound guard Jared McCain scored a game-high 26 points, half of those coming in the final quarter.
“It’s a rivalry game, and it has been intense each game during my four years here,” said McCain, who also lead the Huskies with 12 rebounds. “Things got a little loud and rowdy tonight, so we just had to calm down and play our game. We knew exactly what we needed to do, and that was execute the game plan.”
Darnez Slater scored 25 points to lead the way for Roosevelt. Six of those points came during the first quarter, a period the Mustangs led for all but 92 seconds.
“Centennial is a great team and you always have to bring your best from the start to have any chance to beat them.” Roosevelt coach Stephen Singleton said. “Our guys are never going to back down from the challenge. I think Centennial knows that their toughest league games are going to be against us.”
McCain drained a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the first quarter to give Centennial (16-3, 4-0 in league) its first lead of the game. Wyatt Studer knocked down a free throw in the closing seconds of the period to help Roosevelt (16-5, 3-1) draw even.
Centennial opened the second period with a 10-0 run, the first eight points being scored by Aaron McBride. McBride scored 11 of his 13 points in the second period to help the Huskies take a 34-24 by halftime.
“You just have to stick with it, no matter what,” McBride said. “Things might not be going our way at the start, but everything can change in a matter of minutes.”
Centennial had another quick start after halftime, as the Huskies pieced together a 14-5 run to extend their advantage to 48-29 with 3:16 remaining in the third period. Mike Price and Eric Freeny scored six points apiece to help the Huskies pull away.
“Jared gets so much defensive attention and rightfully so,” Giles said. “But if you give too much attention in that direction, we have a few other guys who can get the job done.”
Slater did his best to keep Roosevelt within striking distance. The junior guard scored at least six points in each quarter to keep the Mustangs’ offense afloat.
“I was very proud of him,” Singleton said about Slater. “Darnez wants to play at the next level. And tonight, he went up against a team with three guys headed to Division I schools and really held his own… He competes and keeps showing he belongs.”
Giles noted the defensive effort of Price, who was assigned the task of guarding Nate Simon, Roosevelt’s No. 2 scorer and top shooter. Simon only scored three points Thursday, all in the fourth quarter, and he managed only four shots from the field in the game.
Price finished with 13 points, and Freeny added 11 points to give Centennial four players in double figures.
Cian Adriano scored nine points for Roosevelt, and Studer added six points and a game-high 13 rebounds.