• Kayleigh Benson is the lone senior on Centennial’s girls basketball roster. The Lady Spartans set a school record last season going three rounds deep in the playoffs. BURLESON STAR/CHRIS JASO

Lady Spartans looking to build on last seasons success

With nine players on Centennial’s girls basketball roster, playing time should be plentiful.

The challenge for coach Valerie Wootan is to find the right rotation and who plays well together.

The Lady Spartans are coming off their most successful season in program history, having reached the Class 5A Region II quarterfinals before falling to Mansfield Legacy, 53-45. Centennial knocked off Mansfield Summit in the first round, then defeated Dallas Conrad.

The Lady Spartans finished the season with an overall record of 22-12 after finishing with a 9-5 mark in District 9-5A play.

Wootan welcomes back five players from last season in senior guard Kayleigh Benson, junior guard Abbi Williams, junior post Zassmine Birdwell and junior guard/posts Ady Mize and Kertisa Amos.

Mize was a 9-5A first-team player last season. Benson and Birdwell earned second-team honors while Williams was an honorable mention player. Amos, the 8-5A Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, missed her sophomore season after suffering an injury in the third game of the season.

The Lady Spartans will have four additions to the varsity roster in junior guard/post Ne’Khyria Rogers, junior post Keandra Banks, junior guard Toni Howard, and freshman guard Trystan Clark.

One of the biggest problems facing Wootan this season will be picking a starting five each game.

“This is such a strong group that naming a starting five is hard,” Wootan said. “It was difficult to pick five players on Saturday before the game with Waco University.”

The Lady Spartans opened their season Saturday with a 49-31 win at Waco University. Amos led Centennial with 19 points. Benson and Rogers each scored six points while Williams added five points.
Tuesday night, Centennial fell to Midlothian, 37-28

One thing is certain according Wootan, the players are ready for the challenges of the season.

“I think the kids are focused and ready,” Wootan said. “They know what their goals are and what they want to accomplish. The kids who are moving up from the junior varsity love basketball and they played all summer. They are excited about getting started. Our starting five will get changed each game depending on what we need and who we are playing. We have a really strong group of kids. I think it is going to depend on which group of five have really good chemistry.”

Wootan’s major concern right now is building chemistry. Because of volleyball, several players missed off-season workouts and are trying to get into the groove.

While chemistry could be a problem early in the season, there is no lack of talent on the roster, Wootan said.

“Our inside game is going to be strong,” Wootan said. “The great thing is that many of our players have the ability to play inside and out, which give us a match-up advantage. I think we will be fast and more athletic than we have ever been before.”

Centennial is hosting its 16-team tournament, which begins today. The Lady Spartans face Lubbock at 1 p.m. in a first-round game.

“I’m excited to have a full 16-team bracket again and I’m thrilled to have teams from different parts of Texas,” Wootan said. “That’s something I really want to showcase in our tournament. I like having teams that have different styles of basketball. I think it is going to be a good tournament.”

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