Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 | 12:38 a.m.
For a team that has won the last three state championships, losing in the Sunset Regional finals left a definite sting for Bishop Gorman.
With one more chance to advance to the state tournament, the Gaels wasted no time against Silverado Monday at Arbor View High School by jumping out to an early 17-point lead before coasting to a 74-45 victory.
"We had to come out like that, on fire," Gorman head coach Sheryl Krmpotich said.
Gorman jumped out to a quick 19-2 lead, and then shifted to cruise control, never again letting Silverado get within single digits of the lead.
The Gaels (29-4) success started inside with senior center Dannielle Diamant.
She had her way with the Skyhawks (24-7), dominating inside the paint and opening up scoring opportunities for other players.
Even facing double and triple teams for most of the game, Diamant finished just one rebound shy of a double-double, with 17 points and nine rebounds.
"We went inside and established that," Krmpotich said. "When you establish that, it's easy to go outside."
As the Silverado defense would collapse on Diamant, it left several Gorman players with open shots, and they capitalized on the good looks. Junior point guard Aaryn Ellenberg was one of those players who knocked down shots from the perimeter, hitting two three pointers and finishing with a game-high 20 points. Yahindra Edwards also scored in double figures for the Gaels, adding 14 points.
"We played a lot better team basketball," Diamant said. "It really shows we're able to come back from a loss."
The quick start by Gorman put Silverado into too deep a hole and the Skyhawks could do little to get back into the game. Three players scored in double figures for Silverado, led by Mikayla Thielges with 14. Shea Collins and Alena Evans also pitched in with 13.
At times they tried to shoot their way back into the contest, but Gorman kept the pressure up on the defensive side to prevent Silverado from taking open shots.
"They're the type of team where if they get hot shooting, they can climb their way back into a game," Krmpotich said.
With a birth into the state tournament, Gorman can set its sights back to the original goal: another state championship.
With the way things have gone the past few seasons, the state title game could likely provide a rematch of last weekend's Sunset Regional championship.
The past seven state titles have gone to either Centennial or Gorman, and if both teams win on Thursday, they will meet in the title game. Gorman first plays Green Valley and Centennial plays Reno.
Two years ago Bishop Gorman found itself in a similar situation. The Gaels lost to Centennial in the regionals and met the Bulldogs again in the state tournament, avenging the loss with a 21-point victory.
Gorman has not forgotten that victory, and hopes to get another shot at Centennial.
"This is our second chance and we can't blow it," Krmpotich said.
Garrett Downing can be reached at email@example.com or 948-7803