GARRETT VALENZUELA / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 | 11:30 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 junior basketball player Chase Jeter thinks he could play better.
Yes, despite scoring 21 points and grabbing 20 rebounds today in the Gaels’ 71-58 victory against Canyon Springs in the Nevada state championship game at Lawlor Events Center, Jeter knows there is still plenty to work on.
“We have so much more room to grow and get better,” he said. “What the future has in store is going to be excellent.”
Jeter, a 6-foot-10 post player and one of the nation’s top recruits for the class of 2015, was simply too much for Canyon Springs to handle in the interior — he had 11 offensive rebounds and often scored while facing a double-team. It’s been that way all season with Jeter developing into a prized prospect and one of the nation’s elite big men.
But that wasn’t the case last year as he struggled in his first varsity season, clearly not reaching his potential. Just imagine if he continues to progress.
“He stays in the gym. He’s a gym rat,” said Noah Robotham, Gorman’s senior point guard. “He’s a great player and he’s going to be a great guy (next year) for Bishop Gorman.”
Gorman won its third straight state championship and fifth title in six seasons, further cementing its legacy as one of Nevada’s all-time great teams. It finished the season with a 30-3 record.
A four-minute stretch to begin the second half opened the flood gates.
The Gaels turned a six-point halftime lead into a comfortable 19-point advantage with a 13-0 scoring run to start the third quarter.
Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman, Gorman’s twin towers in the post, rotated scoring baskets and the Gorman defense forced a few turnovers to continue the rally.
The close game turned into another Gorman blowout. With the victory, Gorman becomes the first team in program history to win three straight championships.
“We didn’t make a lot of adjustments (at halftime). We just got in (to the locker room) and told our bigs: ‘You have to finish,’” said Gorman coach Grant Rice, who won his seventh state championship. “‘You have to finish. They have no answers for you guys.’”
Canyon Springs twice had brief leads in the first half — each lead lasted just seconds. Midway through the second quarter, Canyon Springs’ Chris Nelson drained a 3-pointer for a 16-15 Pioneers advantage.
Robotham answered eight seconds later with a 3-pointer to give Gorman the lead for good. He finished with 12 points in his final game, winning for the 112th time in his career to break the school record previously held by NBA player Shabazz Muhammad.
“It is a good way to end my career,” Robotham said. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but it’s always great to finish on a positive note and continue a legacy.”
Obim Okeke, Robotham’s backcourt running mate, was the difference-maker in the third quarter scoring outburst.
He made a pair of third-quarter 3-pointers to finish with 14 points, including 4 of 5 on 3s. It was a special night for Okeke, who spent his childhood in Reno before his family moved to Las Vegas after his freshman year at Reno’s Bishop Manogue.
“If you hit one or see two go through the hoop for you, you are feeling it,” Okeke said. “If you let the game come to you, you feel it. You start making the right plays for your teammates and your teammates make the right play for you.”
While Jeter and Zimmerman, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds despite early foul trouble, are often in the spotlight because they are blue-chip prospects, it’s contributions from players such as Okeke that give Gorman an edge.
“Obim Okeke is a very underrated player,” Rice said. “He is a very solid player. He’ll be a good Division I basketball player.”
Canyon Springs, the two-time defending Sunrise Region champions, can take comfort in the fact it kept the game close early. Ultimately, however, the Pioneers had no answers for Gorman’s size and were outrebounded 54-28. Three Gorman players — Jeter, Zimmerman and Nick Blair with 11 points and 10 rebounds — had double-doubles.
Senior Gerad Davis led Canyon Springs with 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Shaquile Carr had 16 points for Canyon Springs and Nelson finished with nine.