Centennial’s Kenna Sauer had her eyes on the ball, not on the clock.
Sauer threw herself toward the basketball as the final seconds elapsed against Waukee Friday, knocking it loose. The buzzer sounded sudden to her as Centennial escaped with a 47-45 CIML Central Conference win over the No. 7 Warriors at Centennial’s gym.
“I didn’t know we had that little time,” Sauer said.
Centennial led by 12 points, 40-28, early in the fourth quarter. Then Waukee unleashed an intense press and cut the advantage to 47-45 when Callie Earney lobbed in a long 3-pointer, her first of the season, with 21 seconds to go.
Waukee had the ball near midcourt with 7 seconds left after Centennial missed two free throws.
Sauer, one of the state’s top volleyball players, saw a chance to lunge at the ball, preventing a Waukee shot.
“She’s a tremendous athlete,” Centennial coach Scott DeJong said.
The game matched the winner of the 2016 Class 5A state championship, Centennial, against the 2015 winner. More than 1,000 fans crowded into the stands.
Centennial’s Sydney Wycoff led the victors with 16 points, making four 3-pointers. Chloe Olson scored 10 points, including 4-for-4 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
“There was a lot of pressure on me,” Olson said. “But we’ve been shooting free throws well in practice and I knew I had it.”
Waukee’s Carlie Littlefield scored 18 points and Rebecca Corbett added 15.
Centennial scored the last nine points of the third quarter to lead 38-27. Olson scored six of her team’s 15 points in the period.
As the seconds clicked down, Waukee raised the pressure.
“They really cranked it up,” DeJong said.
Waukee’s defenders rushed at every Centennial player who had the ball. The crowd brought energy to the game, too.
“It gets me really hyped,” Olson said.
Littlefield, a Princeton recruit and Sunday Register All-Iowa selection, scored 13 points in the second half before fouling out with less than a minute left.
“She’s such an awesome player,” DeJong said. “She has been all four years.”
Centennial improved to 9-4 overall. Waukee fell to 8-3.
WAUKEE (45)—Corbett 15, Nieman 2, Hartman 2, Coleman 5, Littlefield 18, Earney 3. Also played—Rau, Schmidt, Gray. Totals 17 7-11.
CENTENNIAL (47)—Sauer 4, Williams 5, Olson 10, Macke 8, Wycoff 16, Keahna Harris 2, Heston 2. Also played—Reinke. Totals 15 12-18.
Waukee…9 11 7 18—45
Centennial…12 11 15 9—47
3-point goals—Waukee 4 (Corbett, Coleman, Littlefield, Earney), Centennial 5 (Macke, Wycoff 4). Fouls—W 20, C 12.
W: Littlefield, Nieman.
Waukee Boys squeak by Ankeny Centennial
Waukee sank seven free throws in the final minute to edge Centennial, 52-49, Friday in a CIML Central Conference boys’ game.
Centennial’s Hunter Strait, who scored 17 points, notched two free throws with 1:23 left in the game to cut Waukee’s lead to 45-44.
Waukee’s Noah Hart scored four points in the game, but made them count — all came on free throws in the final 50.2 seconds.
Hart’s final two free throws came with 2.4 seconds remaining.
Strait and Connor Kasperbauer led Centennial with 17 points.
Waukee’s Drew Johnson led his team with 18. Teammate Jacob Rau added 16.
Waukee (52)—Hart 4, Longnecker 6, Jones 6, Johnson 18, Nelson 2, Rau 16. Totals 17 13-25.
Centennial (49)—Van Meter 2, Brannan 3, Strait 17, Breeding 2, Heimer 4, Kasperbauer 17, Bachman 4. Also played—Kluver, Churchman. Totals 17 10-14.
Waukee…11 7 15 19—52
Centennial…9 7 16 17—49