Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 | 1 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer discuss the high school basketball playoffs, disagreeing on both brackets. Case likes Canyon Springs to win the Sunrise Regional; Ray think they lose in the first round.
An uninitiated pair of eyes may have found it difficult to determine which player was the nation’s top-ranked recruit in Bishop Gorman’s 73-43 regional semifinal victory over Legacy on Thursday.
Even with Shabazz Muhammad putting on his typical outstanding performance, Gorman teammate Demetris Morant stole a significant amount of attention from the crowd at the Desert Oasis High gym.
Morant, a UNLV commit, had several highlight-worthy dunks and swats on his way to 11 points and eight blocks.
“I felt great,” Morant said. “Coming off of yesterday, I didn’t really play because I had a bad attitude. I didn’t deserve to play that much. Today, I got to show how I could impact a game.”
The Gaels shots weren’t falling for the opening three minutes of the game, but their defense kept the Longhorns from gaining any ground. Much of the early defensive intensity was Morant’s doing.
He manned the middle of the paint and recorded two blocks before the Gaels had more than two points.
“When he gets an early blocked shot or an early dunk, he gets some energy going,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “Once he’s really in the defensive mode and running the floor, he’s hard to beat.”
Defense led to offense for Morant. In between a one-handed jam and tomahawk dunk from Muhammad in the second quarter, Morant slammed down two long lob passes from Gio Guzman.
Morant and Muhammad, who had 15 points, shined during a 19-0 run that put the Gaels ahead 47-17 at halftime. It continued in the third quarter.
Morant got the ball in the post midway through the quarter and dunked over a charging Chris Hughes.
“I baptized the guy,” Morant said. “I didn’t see anything but the rim.”
All of Gorman’s usual suspects positively impacted the game. Guzman ran the point smoothly with seven assists. Ronnie Stanley grabbed seven rebounds, including five in the first quarter.
Rosco Allen had 12 points, two assists and two rebounds. Ben Carter had six points and six rebounds.
“We started off very well and just kept going all the way to the third quarter,” Morant said. “I think it was one of our best, most well-rounded games.”
Legacy rarely put up a shot that Gorman didn’t contest. Muhammad largely held Longhorns star Zach Lane at bay, though Lane did wind up with 16 points.
Legacy never found easy buckets inside and was thoroughly out-scored in the paint.
“It all started on the defensive end,” Rice said. “I was really happy with our defensive pressure. It led to scoring on the fast break.”
Gorman will meet Palo Verde in the Sunset Regional Championship Game at 7 tomorrow night at Desert Oasis.