Cross lifts Centennial girls to third straight league crown

Cross lifts Centennial girls to third straight league crown

NORMAL — The Big 12 Conference girls’ basketball title will stay in Champaign.

Centennial avoided the possibility of sharing the league title by dispatching second-place Normal West 58-34 on Friday night.

The Chargers captured their third straight Big 12 regular season conference championship — and eighth in program history ­— by knocking off the Wildcats.

“It means a lot,” Centennial coach Susan Thomas said. “This is a very special group led by a special group of seniors. To win conference three years in a row is a challenge. It just says a lot about this group.”

Seniors Chelsea Cross (10 points, seven steals, five rebounds, five assists) and Chantal Meacham (10 points) led the way for the Chargers, who also got 14 points and eight rebounds from junior Jasmine Kyler.

Friday’s result means Centennial (26-3, 15-0) won’t have to worry about sharing the conference crown with Normal West (16-7, 12-2). The Chargers, ranked fourth in the latest Class 3A poll, end the regular season Monday at Normal Community.

“It’s nice to win it outright,” Thomas said. “Normal West has been a team the last couple years we’ve come up against late in the season. It’s a nice game late in the season going into postseason play. It definitely has a postseason feel to it, so it’s good preparation for when we do start the postseason. I’m really proud.”

A strong third quarter by Centennial made sure Normal West would not spoil the bus ride back home for the Chargers.

“Our goal is to go undefeated and win the conference,” Thomas said. “We’re hoping to check that off the list on Monday and then take the rest of the week to prepare for the postseason.”