Rams down Centennial 49-44 to take over second place in Mt. Hood Conference

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Central Catholic center Jerusha Paine goes up for a shot in front of Centennial's Gabbi Schmitt during the Rams' 49-44 win Thursday night. The Central Catholic girls basketball team enjoyed a double-digit lead through most of the first half Thursday night, only to see Centennial rush back to tie the score with 2:30 to play.

The Rams had two choices — panic or answer the challenge.

Central was unfazed down the stretch, pulling away for a 49-44 win that vaulted it into second place in the Mount Hood Conference.

“We needed to keep up the intensity,” Rams center Jerusha Paine said. “We wanted the win. We want to keep fighting to get into the playoffs.”

Centennial climbed out of a hole that reached as many as 15 points by connecting on 6 of 7 shots in the third period. The Eagles eventually pulled even when Melissa Dailey took a steal, dribbled into the lane and twisted her body to get a shot over a defender with 2:32 to play.

The deadlock would last only a matter of seconds when Paine got loose underneath for a three-point play. On her team’s next possession, she grabbed a rebound off a teammate’s missed free throw and went right back up for two points and a commanding 46-41 lead as the clock ticked down to near a minute.

“Working together as a team meant a lot to us,” Paine said. “We controlled the ball and pulled it out.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Rams point guard Zharia Hale makes a pass near midcourt.

Centennial wasn’t ready to surrender quite yet.

Meagan Smith converted a three-point play to make it a one-possession game, and a travelling violation gave the ball back to the Eagles with 0:45 on the clock.

Centennial’s Megan Dailey was going for the lead with a 3 from the top of the key. The ball was cocked at her shoulder and her knees were bent, but a whistle sounded and stopped her from releasing the shot. The Eagles were called for a moving screen on the play, sending the ball back to the Rams.

Amirah Abraham sank a pair of free throws at the other end to put the game out of reach, 48-44 with 27 seconds remaining.

Central (9-9) has won seven of its last eight games — its only loss during that stretch coming against No. 3-ranked St. Mary’s Academy.

Centennial (10-9) fell into a tie with Barlow for third. The top three finishers advance to the Class 6A playoffs.

The Rams broke out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter after Sam Nizich and Kyra Logan connected on a series of early 3s.

Paine led all players with 24 points.

View a photo gallery from the game at …

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