Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 | 7:18 p.m.
Noah Robotham’s 3-pointer with about 14 seconds remaining Friday lifted the Bishop Gorman High basketball team to a 58-57 victory against Florida power Blanche Ely High in the prestigious City of Palms of Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
The tournament features five of the nation’s top uncommitted players for the class of 2012, including Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad. With the Gaels training by two points with less than 20 seconds to play, several assumed it would be Muhammad — the nation’s consensus top prospect — that would be taking the final shot.
But Blanche Ely players tripled-teamed Muhammad when he got the ball around midcourt, forcing him to pass to his brother, Rashad Muhammad. Rashad Muhammad found a wide-open Robotham, who calmly buried the winning shot.
“As a basketball player, you have to always have confidence in yourself. There was no hesitation,” Robotham said.
On a Gorman team of several prized prospects, it is the sophomore Robotham, a 5-foot-11 point guard, who has the reputation of making the big play. Last year against Findlay Prep, Robotham’s 3-pointer from the corner nearly forced a third overtime in a back-and-forth game against the national power.
He could have flinched under pressure in both situations, but never hesitated in rising to the occasion.
“That’s ‘Big Shot’ Noah,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “He’s just a solid player. He came up big when we needed him. He is starting to gain that reputation for hitting the big shot.”
Gorman jumped out to a 13-5 lead against Blanche Ely, which entered with an 8-0 record and was ranked No. 1 in Florida. But the Gaels could never build on the advantage, and the game was back-and-forth the rest of the way.
On the winning play, Shabazz Muhammad could have easily tried to dribble around the triple-team. Instead, he relied on his teammates — a fact that is equally important as Robotham’s shot. Gorman is ranked in the top 10 nationally, needing contributions from more than its top player to remain prominent.
“We want to be undefeated,” said Robotham, who finished with 12 points and five assists. “To do that, we all have to be on the same page — from the first guy on the roster to No. 17, or how many guys we have on the team.”
Shabazz Muhammad led Gorman with 27 points and eight rebounds, while UNLV signee Demetrius Morant had eight points, seven blocked shots and five assists. Senior Ben Carter, who in November signed with Oregon, is still sidelined with an injured foot and not expected to play in the tournament.
Gorman returns to action Monday in the tournament.