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As one examines the wreckage of Century’s 77-42 girls basketball victory over Legacy, it’s difficult to comprehend that Legacy trailed by only five points at halftime and had a bit of momentum going into the break.

 But a 26-2 explosion has a way of altering everything. That’s what Century did with suffocating defense to start the second half of Friday’s West Region semifinal game.

 Century’s eight defensive takeaways played a major role in second-half burst that put the Patriots on top 67-38 on Lauren Ware’s put-back with 8:50 remaining in the game.

 Senior guard Mariya Kinnebrew, who contributed 10 points to Century’s game-winning surge, said the halftime talk was about defense after the Sabers scored nine of the final 13 points of the first half. That rally enabled Legacy to trim what had been a 12-point deficit to 41-36.

 “We had a good halftime talk. (The coaches) said we had to improve our defense. … The first half we played loose and gave them too many layups,” Kinnebrew said.

 While Century was running away with the game, Legacy hit just one of nine shots to go with the 10 turnovers.

 “This is definitely one of the best half-games of defense we’ve played,” Kinnebrew said. “Everyone was involved. … When that happens and we communicate we build each other up.”

 By rebounding and taking the ball away, Century was able to run the floor, tipping the tempo of the game in its favor.

 That was not the case when the Patriots squeaked past Legacy 49-44 in their second game of the regular season.

 CHS coach Ron Metz said the halftime discussion that proved so fruitful was really a repetition of what he told the team before the game.

 “What we did was tell them the same we did before the start of the game. … We were a little bit out of sorts defensively. … It was phenomenal what we did the second half. To hold an offensive team like that to that many points is a credit to the tenacity these girls have,” Metz said.

 Ten girls scored for the Patriots with three reaching double figures. Junior guard Lilly Keplin, who scored nine of Century’s first 13 points, finished with a game-high 22, 12 of them on 3-pointers. Ware, a 6-foot-4 sophomore post, added 19 points and nine rebounds and Kinnebrew tallied 12 points.

 CHS ended up on the plus side of a 20-12 turnover county and shot 51 percent. Legacy exhibited 35 percent shooting accuracy.

 Whitney Thomas, a 5-8 senior, was Legacy’s only double-figure scorer with 10 points.

 Legacy coach Jim Petrik was philosophical about the turn of events, pointing out that the focus now is on the losers’ bracket and today’s 12:45 state qualifying game against Bismarck. The Sabers and Demons split their two regular-season games.

 “We rested a lot of kids the last 10 minutes after the game got out of hand,” Petrik noted. “We play this tournament to get two wins, but we’ve got to wait another day for the second one.”

 Petrik tipped his hat to Century’s swarming second-half man-to-man defense.

 “We didn’t execute what we wanted to accomplish after halftime,” he said. “The wind was taken out of our sails, and you’ve got to give Century’s defensive effort credit. They took it to us.”

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