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Diamonds of the Gem State
Century girls basketball already locked up a ticket to the playoffs. But can the Diamondbacks repeat as State Champs?
Published: 2/13/2020 10:31:02 AM
Robert Reeve
Staff Writer

Chris Shuler took over as the head girls basketball coach at Century 12 years ago. In that time, he has helped transform the program into one of the most successful in the Gem State.

During Shuler’s tenure, the Diamondbacks have reached the playoffs nearly every year, and in the past seven years have appeared in the championship game five times. This year, Century looks to earn back-to-back titles for the second time in that span. 

"The girls buy into playing defense. They know in order to play, they are going to have to be tough on that end,” Shuler said. “I tell them if we can stop teams from scoring, then our offense will come.”

Shuler said speed is the key for Century’s decade-long dominance. 

“We like to play a fast game and run in transition,” he said. “I think our length really helps us to get stops. Then, we get out and run.” 

Senior Lexi Bull, recently committed to the University of Wyoming, said getting set on the defensive end of the court gives her team an edge, as apparent by the Diamondbacks’ 16-point differential, the best in the 4A Great Basin Conference.  

"The main point in our program is defense and I really think our team can do it all,” Bull said. “Everyone on the floor can run and play defense."

The formula seems to be working for the Diamondbacks. This year they have cruised to a 13-0 conference record. 

But it hasn't been all smooth sailing for Shuler's' team. Last year, senior standouts Chinma Njoku (Boise State) and Olivia Holt (Treasure Valley Community College) graduated, leaving large holes to fill at key positions. 

But seniors Bull and Abby Christensen — committed to Wyoming — are up to the task.  

“Abby and Lexi have been great this year, and Cassidy (Gardea) has stepped up to run the point for us. Our starting rotation has done a really good job helping to build up that second group. The first group really molds that second group," Shuler said. “It's finding that balance between our youth and experience." 

Bull said her role on the team has changed from last year, with more emphasis on offense. 

"This year my role is a scorer. Last year it was more on the defensive end,” she said. “We have had girls step up in new roles and this year, I'm looking to be a leader, especially in practice."

Bull said earlier this year, the team competed in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. With four back-to-back games against national competition, the Diamondbacks had their strength and endurance tested.

“That really helped us come together and prepare for the state tournament," Bull said. 

That tournament marks the only three losses on the season for the Diamondbacks. With the state tournament and another run at the title just around the corner, Shuler knows just how much work and focus it takes to repeat as champions. 

"I tell the girls there are three seasons: the regular season, the district tournament and the state tournament,” he said. “We have a big bull’s eye on our back and everyone is going to give us their best shot." 

The Diamondbacks have already punched their ticket to the state tournament and will look to seal away a conference title against No. 3 Jerome 7 p.m. Thursday at Century High School. 



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