Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 | midnight
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back to look at the high school basketball scene. Listen to see if Keefer backs down from his preseason pick of Centennial to win the state championship.
For the first three quarters of the most anticipated regular season high school basketball game of the year, Bishop Gorman fans watched in the Centennial High gym anxiously waiting.
Waiting to see if their Gaels could ever hold the lead for more than a few fleeting moments and, if so, who would serve as the catalyst.
The answer to the first question was a clear “yes,” as Gorman rode an 11-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to a 79-71 road victory. As far as which player sparked the turnaround, that’s a tad more complicated.
Four players scored during the deciding four-minute stretch, and a fifth contributed with key rebounds.
“It was just a collective effort,” said junior guard Noah Robotham. “We weathered the storm early and worked hard on the defensive end.”
Robotham sank a runner during the late run and led the Gaels with 22 points overall. But senior Rashad Muhammad, who finished with 17 points, hit the biggest shot with a transition three-pointer from the corner to give Gorman its first two-possession lead.
Sophomore Stephen Zimmerman — 17 points, 14 rebounds, five steals — made a putback to start the run. Senior Trey Kennedy — nine points, seven rebounds — was the one who gave Gorman the lead it never relinquished.
And, finally, sophomore Chase Jeter — eight points, five rebounds — snagged two rebounds to set everything in motion.
“When you’ve got four guys averaging double digits, it’s tough to concentrate on just one,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “If you try to shut down Rashad, Trey or Noah can go off. And we’re always trying to force it inside to the big guys.”
The Gaels needed everyone to coalesce like they did Tuesday night, because the two most outstanding individual performances belonged to the Bulldogs. Stanford-bound seniors Marcus and Malcolm Allen combined for 53 points. Marcus had 32 with Malcolm chipping in 21.
Marcus scored 17 points in the opening 10 minutes and slammed down two dunks in the second half that ignited the home crowd. When the Gaels overcompensated to focus on Marcus defensively, Malcolm made them pay with smooth jumpers and a rocket dunk of his own.
“Those are some athletic twins,” Robotham said. “We were just trying to make it as tough as we could. They were going to hit some shots. We had to let it be.”
Shooting wasn’t the only area where Centennial beat Gorman early, though. Despite a pronounced size advantage for the Gaels, the Bulldogs were the better rebounding team for most of the game.
Led by Marcus Allen’s eight boards, Centennial was plus-6 in the rebounding battle after the third quarter.
“They have height, but our team has heart,” Marcus Allen said. “You can’t outdo heart. I felt like we fought hard.”
Gorman out-rebounded Centennial by eight in the final quarter, another reason it was able to pull out the late victory. But the Bulldogs feel like they can fix that and other late game miscues.
They aren’t dreading a Feb. 7 rematch at Bishop Gorman.
“I think we can carry this over,” Malcolm Allen said. “I liked the pace. It was an exciting game to play. It showed us they were beatable. I think this is a huge confidence builder for our team.”
But it was an even bigger night for Gorman. Not only did the Gaels notch their 85th straight victory against local competition, but they watched their girls team pull off an upset against what was thought to be the city’s best squad before taking the court.
Tonishia Childress drove to the bucket and made a layup in the final seconds to lift Gorman over Centennial 60-59. It marked the Gaels' first victory over the archrival Bulldogs in three years. Childress, April Rivers and Raychel Stanley all scored in double digits.
The all-hands-on triumph wasn’t unlike the one that followed from the boys team.
“It’s definitely a group effort with us and I’m happy about that,” Rice said.