Garrett Valenzuela / The Nevada Sagebrush
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 | 8:10 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer come to you from the Las Vegas Sun's podcast studio for one final time this basketball season. They dissect the chances of seeing an all-Las Vegas state championship game between Bishop Gorman and Green Valley.
- Green Valley nearly erases 16-point fourth-quarter deficit, falls in state semis by two points
- Husband and wife coaching duo never stopped believing
- Gorman, Shabazz Muhammad out to avenge loss in last year’s state tournament
- Practicing for the state tournament, fighting wind, cold and chain-link nets
- Durrell McDonald unstoppable in leading Green Valley past Foothill for Sunrise title
- Devan Kohn’s 34 points helps Green Valley upset Valley in Sunrise semifinals
- State semifinal picks
- High school basketball section
RENO — When Bishop Gorman High’s Ben Carter jogged back to the bench during a timeout early in the first quarter of the 4A state semifinals Thursday at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, the 6-foot-9 forward couldn’t help noticing the scoreboard.
After all, it showed a downright impressive start to the game for the perennial power Gaels.
Gorman wasted little time taking control against Northern Nevada’s Douglas High, scoring its initial basket five seconds into the game and leading 24-0 before the Tigers got on the scoreboard.
One year after the nationally ranked Gaels were upset in the state semifinals by Reno’s Bishop Manogue High, they quickly erased any aspirations of another upset.
Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the first-quarter outburst and the Gaels led by as many as 45 points in the second half, easily earning a spot in Friday's championship game with a 73-38 victory.
If they have a duplicate performance of Thursday’s first quarter in the finals, a third state title in four years is all but guaranteed for the team with four Division-I recruits in the starting lineup.
“I knew we were playing hard and with a lot of energy, so the score kind of took care of itself,” Carter said of trying to track the early scoring. “I looked at it every now and then. At the timeout, when I saw we were up 18-0, I was kind of shocked. But we got after them from the start and that is what coaches asked of us.”
While Gorman scored virtually every time down the court in the opening six minutes, Douglas was limited to one shot at the basket or a turnover — which led to Gorman racing out in transition on the fast break. When Douglas finally scored, most of the approximately 2,000 fans in the arena joyfully applauded.
A 24-2 deficit is nothing to cheer about, but at least Douglas was able to temporarily stop the rally.
Gorman scored 44 points last year in the loss to Bishop Manogue. This year, they had 44 in the first half. You could tell they weren’t going to allow a repeat performance.
“We’ve tried not to mention it too much,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said of last year’s loss. “I don’t want to dwell on it. It is over. Even though it is the same kids, they are a year more mature now. They have a year more experience and are a year older.”
The fast start isn’t limited to Thursday.
Gorman also started the game quickly in its three Sunset Regional playoff games, winning by an average of nearly 30 points per game to capture a fourth consecutive regional crown. The state’s unquestioned top team is peaking at the right time of the season, winning 21 of its past 22 games.
Carter missed part of the year with an injured foot, but has returned to spark the lineup in the final six weeks of the season. He had 10 points in limited action Thursday.
“Ben Carter just fills up the stat sheet,” Rice said. “He isn’t always going to lead you in scoring, rebounding or assists. But he’ll do all three of those. … Ben gets it. He is a complete guy. Having him healthy has taken us to another level.”
Gorman led 69-24 after the third quarter and played its reserves the final eight minutes — where there was a running clock because of the mercy rule.
Rosco Allen also shined for Gorman in scoring eight points and grabbing 17 rebounds. He had 13 rebounds in the first half, with Gorman limiting Douglas to less than five rebounds in the first quarter, according to stats provided by Gorman.
UNLV-bound forward Demetris Morant had 14 points and five blocks, converting several highlight-reel dunks. During the first-quarter outburst, he slammed home an alley-oop on a pass from Gio Guzman in one of the plays of the game.
“To tell you the truth, I was kind of nervous for this game because I didn’t know what to expect,” Morant said. “But once we started playing, I got real comfortable.”
Now, the Gaels have to continue their comfort level into the title game.
“This is a good win and we are excited about it. But we have one more game tomorrow,” Rice said.