Balanced Gaels cruise past Centennial

Here’s some bad news for local high school basketball entering the NIAA playoffs next week.

Defending Division I state champion Bishop Gorman appears to be peaking at the right time.

The Gaels (24-4, 10-0) put the finishing touches on an undefeated Southwest League title on Thursday night with a convincing 80-64 victory over second place Centennial (23-3, 8-2) in a rematch of last year’s state finalists.

Despite the fact star center Stephen Zimmerman spent a fair amount of time on the bench after picking up three quick fouls, the Gaels still built a 20-point lead by midway through the second quarter and then withstood several second half runs by the Bulldogs, who got as close as 10 points early in the fourth quarter.

“Coming to Centennial on their Senior Night, last game of the season, tough place to play … I was really proud of our guys the first half,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “We built a pretty big halftime lead (45-26) and didn’t play out best game in the second half but a lot of that had to do with Centennial. They made a lot of shots, really played hard and didn’t quit.”
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Freshman sensation Troy Brown had 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Bulldogs while senior center Eddie Davis chipped in with 14 points and five rebounds.

Bishop Gorman, meanwhile, had outstanding balance. Senior point guard Noah Robotham, shooting guard Obim Okeke, forward Nick Blair and Zimmerman (5-of-5 FG) all finished with 13 points while forward Chase Jeter added 12 points and five blocks. Robotham also had 11 assists while Blair had six steals and eight assists.

“To get all five starters in double-digits, you can’t ask for more,” Rice said. “If we can continue this consistency with our starting five playing solid and then getting four or five guys off the bench contributing, we’re pretty hard to beat. We’ve just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and have a steady effort. It’s just not going to come from one guy.”

Bishop Gorman opens defense of its state title on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. when it hosts Sierra Vista (15-10) in the first round of the Sunset Region playoffs while Centennial hosts Palo Verde (13-13).

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