GARRETT VALENZUELA / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 | 11:45 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer touch on each of the Southern Nevada teams heading to Reno for the state tournament — Bishop Gorman, Canyon Springs, Clark and Desert Pines. Gorman and Clark are the rightful favorites in their respective divisions, but could an upset be in store?
Bishop Gorman High basketball coaches constantly reminded players this week not to underestimate Reno High in today’s state semifinals.
Yes, Gorman was expected to be significantly better than Reno. But, it wouldn’t be the first time the Gaels lost to a team they shouldn’t have in the state tournament.
In the 2006 semifinals, Gorman was upset by Reno, losing at Lawlor Events Center when it was supposed to win easily. Thursday’s matchup was back at Lawlor, drawing similarities that coaches knew raised a red flag.
Turns out Gorman had nothing to worry about, posting an easy 68-27 victory to advance to Friday’s state championship game against Canyon Springs. Canyon Springs defeated Northern Nevada’s Spanish Springs, 66-51, in the other semifinal game.
Gorman used a 20-0 scoring run from late in the first quarter to 2:45 remaining before halftime to put the game away.
“I was happy with our effort right from the start. That’s been pretty consistent in the playoffs,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “...We talked in the locker room about making a statement right from the start. I think our guys were up to that challenge.”
Two minutes into the third quarter, Gorman extended its lead to 45 points to start the mercy rule of a running clock. The second half was arguably the quickest in state championship tournament history.
Junior Chase Jeter led Gorman with 14 points, including 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half. He either dunked or took the ball strong to the basket to draw a foul, making 6 of 9 free throw attempts to help Gorman outscore Reno 25-4 in the second quarter.
“It’s the (team) chemistry and sharing the ball. A lot of us sharing the ball and getting rebounds, offensively,” Jeter said of the easy win. “Just a lot of energy tonight.”
Gorman (28-4) has about 20 players on its postseason roster, and Rice emptied his bench in the second half, giving starters a break in preparation for the championship game.
Starters Nick Blair, Noah Robotham and Stephen Zimmerman each scored 12 points, while Obim Okeke added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers. They each played half the game.
Now, there’s a new challenge — Canyon Springs.
This opponent, however, already has Gorman’s attention. While Canyon Springs struggled in the first half of its semifinal win, some feel the 2011 state champion Pioneers will give Gorman a big-time test for the title. Gorman is playing for its fifth title in six years; Canyon Springs won the year it didn’t.
“We are excited to be here in the state championship game having fun,” Jeter said. “We are going to go out there and have a good time.”
Gorman has won the past two championship games by lopsided fashion, beating Reno's Hugh High in 2012 and last season against Centennial. The game against Canyon Springs is expected to be closely-contested
"That’s the matchup everybody has been excited about this week," Rice said. "We are up to the task."