Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer talk about the week's high school basketball games, including the impressive starts to league play by Silverado and Valley.
Shabazz Muhammad collapsed on the floor to the side of the Bishop Gorman bench at Clark High late in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game.
There was no need for concern. The nation’s top-ranked player wasn’t injured. Muhammad was just nursing a minor calf cramp, which was understandable after the way he carried the Gaels to an 80-68 victory over the Chargers to claim sole possession of first place in the Southwest Division.
Muhammad exceeded his lofty standards yet again, scoring 41 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in the win.
“I’ve seen him score 40 before,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “But what I’m most impressed with is the 18 rebounds.”
Muhammad’s menacing performance on the boards saved Gorman from a lackadaisical start. Clark bombed its way to 24-12 lead early in the second quarter by making four three-pointers. The Chargers were also holding their own against the much bigger Gaels inside.
Muhammad had seen enough. He raked in almost every missed shot and turned it into 18 second quarter points. A 14-2 run by the Gaels gave them an 10-point lead at halftime.
“They were double-teaming me and triple-teaming me, so it was hard to score,” Muhammad said. “You had to find other ways to score, so I got rebounds to give me an opportunity.”
Muhammad finished 13-for-24 from the field despite missing his first five shots of the night. Rosco Allen, a Stanford commit, kept Gorman afloat while Muhammad found his rhythm.
Allen scored seven of his 10 points in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Friday also saw the return of the final member of Gorman’s de-facto Big Three.
Ben Carter, an Oregon commit, played for the first time this season after recovering from a foot injury. Appearing in a limited role to ease him back into the rotation, Carter scored five points with four rebounds.
“I think that’s going to have a big impact when we play the rest of our games,” Muhammad said of Carter’s return.
Clark, a team that was previously undefeated in league play, made sure it wasn’t an easy game to come back to. Aside from the disastrous second quarter, the Chargers outscored the Gaels by seven points.
Sir Washington scored 23 points and led Clark to its hot start in the first quarter. His cousin, Kentrell Washington, chipped in 18 points himself.
The Washingtons cut Gorman’s lead to as few as six points in the fourth quarter, but Muhammad always bit back.
“We knew they were going to be ready,” Rice said of Clark. “They’ve been waiting for this game for a while. Coach (Chad) Beeten is doing an absolutely great job with this program. It seems like it’s re-vitalized this school with the crowd here and the fans. These were the best fans I’ve seen.”
Muhammad continually silenced them, though. Even after he cramped up late in the game, Muhammed re-entered and threw down a dunk.
Nothing could slow him, not even uncooperative muscles.
“I’m going to drink a little fluids tonight and get ready for the next one,” Muhammad said.