STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 | 11:10 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer fill out their brackets for the Sunset and Sunrise regional tournaments.
- Canyon Springs, standout guard develop ahead of schedule to win Sunrise title
- Canyon Springs’ hot streak continues with first-round playoff win at Eldorado
- It took two overtimes before Bishop Gorman could overcome Centennial in likely state championship game preview
- Gorman survives barrage at Centennial with fourth-quarter surge
- HS Basketball Picks: Regional Playoffs Edition
- High school basketball section
Now that they’ve spent 104 minutes playing against each other at three different venues, the body of evidence is both expansive and conclusive.
Bishop Gorman is a better basketball team than Centennial, albeit by the slightest of margins. The Gaels beat the Bulldogs for the third time this season to capture the Sunset Regional championship Friday at Durango High. The score would indicate it was the closest meeting between the two best teams in town yet.
Bishop Gorman 80, Centennial 78.
“They exploit our weaknesses better than any other team,” Gorman sophomore Stephen Zimmerman said. “They have great jump shooters and attack the basket well. They just play really smart against us.”
Like its double-overtime loss at Gorman and the first game where it led for the majority of the night, Centennial had a chance late to pull the upset Friday night. The Bulldogs came back from a rough first half — where they shot 12-for-32 from the floor and trailed by as many as 11 points — behind an outbreak from the Allen twins.
Malcolm Allen scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half. Marcus Allen chipped in 13 of his 24 in the final 16 minutes.
“They are just thoroughbred athletes,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said, “and it’s really hard for us to stay with them.”
Marcus Allen drove to the basket for a layup that made the score 65-65 with five minutes remaining. The Gaels rose to the occasion from there.
Noah Robotham, who only had one point at the time, scored five straight points to regain control for Gorman. Zimmerman also scored five points in the final four minutes.
The five-star recruit scored 24 points and had 15 rebounds, keeping Gorman afloat with several putbacks in the second half when it lacked other consistent producers on offense. Rashad Muhammad starred in the first half, scoring 17 of his 23 points in the first 10 minutes including a trio of three-pointers.
It marked the third straight game, all of the Gaels' playoff contests, that Muhammad built an early lead for his team.
“He’s been great, we need that offense,” Rice said. “Between Rashad and Zimm, they had 47 points. That’s a really good inside-out combo with the other guys, Noah and Trey Kennedy, being really steady as well.”
Kennedy recorded 10 points, five assists and four rebounds. He also set the tone with his defensive intensity early.
The win gave Gorman its fifth straight Sunset title. Muhammad has now been around for four of them, but celebrated this one unlike any of the others.
“This one was real special because we have a lot of youth on the team,” Muhammad said. “I think this one meant the most to me personally.”
The Bulldogs still have an opportunity to join the Gaels in the state tournament next week at the Orleans. Centennial meets Valley at 6 next Monday in a play-in game.
Rice thinks Centennial is more dangerous than ever with the emergence of Khalil Thompson, who followed his breakout game in the semifinals with 20 points including six three-pointers against Gorman.
Thompson briefly stole the lead for Centennial late in the third quarter with his trademark corner three-pointer to make the score 61-60.
“Now you can’t really play those gimmick defenses against them because they’ve got three guys who can score,” Rice said. “It was a tough matchup for us.”
Even though they’ve played three times now, there’s still a sense that a fourth meeting is on the horizon. With two Centennial wins and one from Gorman, the teams could meet in next Friday’s state championship.
“It would be a crazy game,” Muhammad said. “I look forward to seeing them again,”