Winning the Sunset Region championship basketball title has become so commonplace at Bishop Gorman that even head coach Grant Rice has lost count.
“You know what, I really couldn’t tell you,” Rice said after the Gaels (25-6) crushed Palo Verde, 82-46, in the Sunset title game on Friday night at Arbor View High School. “I would guess since 2009 probably. That would be the year. Six or seven, I’m not sure. Whatever that is. … It’s a nice run but we still have some work to do next week.”
Let the record show that it was the seventh straight region crown for Gorman, which is two wins away from winning a fourth consecutive state title. That journey starts Thursday night at 8 p.m. at the Orleans Arena in the state Division I semifinals against an opponent to be determined.
Chase Jeter scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Nick Blair finished with 14 points and Stephen Zimmerman added six points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Gaels, who finished the game on a 37-12 run.
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“Against teams like this we have to take advantage of our size and our athletic ability,” Jeter said. “Going into this game that was our mindset from the start.”
The 6-foot-11 Jeter, who won’t turn 18 until September when he’s already enrolled at Duke, dominated early and often, scoring 17 points in the first 6½ minutes as the Gaels rolled to a 25-9 lead in the first quarter.
Jeter, who sat out a good chunk of the second quarter, had 21 points and eight rebounds at halftime which the Gaels led, 37-26, and upped that total to 27 points and 11 boards after the third quarter when Gorman blew the game open with a 17-0 run to make it 62-34.
Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a fellow McDonald’s All-American like the 7-foot Zimmerman – one of the best passing prep big men to come out in the last decade — feeding you from the high post. It was the 112th win at Gorman for Zimmerman, tying the school record set by Noah Robotham.
“My teammates took care of me and I took care of them today,” Jeter said. “It was just good chemistry all-around today, and we need to really take this into next week with the same mentality and the same goal.”
“We focused in the second half on really working that high-low,” Rice said. “Zimm and Zach (Collins) are such great passers from that high post. And then Chase clogs up the middle and finishes around the rim.”
Grant Dressler scored 17 points and Ja Morgan added 11 to lead Palo Verde (19-9), which faces Sunrise Division runner-up Valley on Monday night at Chaparral High School at 7 p.m. with the winner earning a berth in the state tourney.
CANYON SPRINGS 65, VALLEY 63 (3 OT): Jordan Davis scored 35 points as the Pioneers rallied from a 16-point second quarter deficit to advance to the state tournament.
It was the fourth Sunrise Region title in five years for Canyon Springs.
Davis, who has signed with Northern Colorado, scored seven points in the final overtime, including six straight to help the Pioneers overcome a 61-58 deficit with two minutes left.
Shea Garland scored 19 points and Cam Burton added 18 points to lead Valley.