Class 5A State Basketball Tournament
Ankeny Centennial 60, Waterloo West 51

It didn’t take long for someone to spring the first upset of the 2023 state tournament.

In the second game of opening day, sixth-seeded Ankeny Centennial took an early lead and then made the plays it needed to stay ahead in turning back third-seeded Waterloo West 60-51 to reach the Class 5A semifinals.

The Jaguars kept West star Sahara Williams in check, crashed the offensive boards and made its free throws at the end to earn a date with defending champion Johnston at 10 a.m. Thursday. Johnston beat Centennial twice during the regular season, most recently a 66-59 win on Jan. 27.

Centennial got a big game from senior Makenna Clark, who came in averaging 8.9 points. She finished with 20 and was steady at the free throw line, making 12 of 14. Mya Crawford added 10 points and nine points for the Jaguars, while Kennedy White had nine points and nine rebounds. Jaeden Pratt also scored nine, grabbed four rebounds and came up with two steals.

Centennial outrebounded West 37-33 and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, which led to a 14-5 edge in second-chance points.

The Jaguars concentrated their defense on 5-foot-11 senior Sahara Williams, who has signed with Oklahoma and brought a 21.2 scoring average to the tournament. The Centennial defenders made her give up the ball or forced her into tough shots and held her to 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting.

Williams did contribute in other ways, though, grabbing 13 rebounds, handing out six assists and making five steals before fouling out with 1:20 left.

Bradley signee Halli Poock led the Wahawks with 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Sierra Moore, who’ll play volleyball and basketball at Central College, added eight points and seven rebounds.

Down 12-9 midway through the first quarter, Centennial ran off nine straight points and never trailed again. The Jaguars led 29-24 at halftime and held West to 3-for-16 shooting in the third quarter while expanding its lead to 41-31.

Poock’s bank shot and Williams’ two free throws – her only points of the second half – drew West to 43-37 with 6:39 left. But the Wahawks got no closer.

Pratt hit a short jumper in the lane and then hit a layup after some sharp passing to get the lead back to 10. After Poock stole the ball and drove for a layup to cut the lead to 47-39, Centennial finished off its victory with free throws, making 13 of 16 in the final 2:19. Clark was 9-for-10 during the stretch as West fouled trying to get back into it.

Centennial, which is in the tournament for the fifth time, moves on with an 18-6 record. West set a school record for victories and finishes 22-2. The senior class led by Williams, Poock and Moore won 84 games during their time at West.