Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 | 11:45 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer return with a discussion on all three brackets commencing this week — the Sunrise region, the Sunset region and the Division 1-A Southern region.
Everyone else stood still as Chase Jeter’s free throw caromed off the rim.
Jeter, the blue-chip Bishop Gorman senior forward, was the only one on the floor in the second quarter of Thursday’s night Sunset Regional semifinal game between his team and Bonanza aware it was a one-and-one. He collected the rebound without confrontation and converted on an easy layup.
“It’s been since elementary school since something like that happened,” Jeter grinned. “Guys were too caught up in the game.”
That was representative of the night for Jeter and the Gaels, which stayed alive in their quest to win a seventh straight region championship, at Arbor View High. Bishop Gorman blew out Bonanza 93-52 without encountering much trouble.
The Gaels were up 20-4 after five minutes and never let the Bengals threaten. Duke-bound Jeter led the onslaught with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
“It gets pretty emotional playing my last games, but that’s even more motivation to want to finish strong with my teammates,” Jeter said.
Bonanza surrendered the opening tipoff, dropping back to set up its zone defense against Jeter and fellow 7-foot senior Stephen Zimmerman. It was the only time all night the Bengals didn’t put up a fight.
Despite the lopsided score, Bonanza came at the three-time defending state champions and prevailed in various spots including outscoring Gorman through the first five minutes of the second half. Senior forward DaVonta Price was responsible for almost all of the success.
Price sparked for a game-high 26 points, hitting shots all over the floor no matter how the Gaels adjusted to guard him.
“He was consistent throughout the game,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said of Price. “We tried to pressure them in the first half and it didn’t faze him. He caught the ball in the middle, attacked the basket and had confidence.”
Price’s most memorable field goal came two possessions before the Jeter one-and-one flub. Sprinting free on a fast break, Price threw down a dunk that set off the Bonanza crowd.
Gorman’s crowd had numerous slams to cheer about throughout the evening. Jeter started the dunking clinic when he streaked through the lane and found a laser pass from Zimmerman to jam in the first quarter.
Zimmerman, who had 16 points and seven rebounds, later topped him by throwing down a high-arching lob pass from sophomore guard Charles O’Bannon in the second quarter. Senior forward Nick Blair, 18 points and seven rebounds, put in his own entry for the dunk sweepstakes when he flushed a putback in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just two points, but it gets us hyped,” Jeter said. “Scoring in ways like that and motivating our teammates is what propels us forward.”
Dunking is often the most efficient way for the Gaels to score — unless they get too fancy. Rice was more caught up on the ones they missed after the game, which included a pair of one-handed attempts and another acrobatic move from Zimmerman.
“We just need to finish the dunk,” Rice said. “Sometimes they are high school kids and they get a little exuberant. They see the basket and they try to do a little too much. We need to focus and stick to fundamentals.”
Rice will stress that message going into tonight’s regional championship game against rival Palo Verde, which upset Centennial in the first semifinal. The Panthers hung with the Gaels until the third quarter of a 88-63 loss earlier this season.
“They’re very scrappy so we can’t go in with a lackadaisical mentality,” Jeter said. “We need to attack them the same way they’re going to attack us. They’re going to hit us, so we need to hit them right back.”