NIAA State Playoffs: Bishop Gorman three-peats

RENO – Bishop Gorman junior forward Chase Jeter had just recorded a rare 20-20 version of a double-double, but there was another number that was on the 6-foot-10 junior forward’s mind after the Gaels defeated Canyon Springs, 71-58, on Friday night at the Lawlor Events Center here.

“First team in school history to win three in a row,” Jeter, who scored a team-high 21 points to go along with 20 boards, said. “That’s a great feeling.”

Yes, it was time to break out the three-peat t-shirts after the Gaels (30-3) used a 13-0 run to start the second half to pull away for their third consecutive NIAA State Division I championship.

“We turned a lot of heads this year and proved a lot of people wrong,” Jeter, who continues to move up the charts of the nation’s top prospects for the Class of 2015, said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

The other half of Gorman’s twin towers, 7-foot junior center Stephen Zimmerman, also finished with a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and tossed in six assists and four blocks for good measure. And senior guard Obim Okeke, a key member of the Gaels’ state championship football team, finished with 14 points (four 3-pointers) while senior point guard Noah Robotham (12) and junior forward Nick Blair (11) also scored in double figures.

Still, the difference in this one was the big one-two punch of Jeter and Zimmerman as the Gaels took advantage of a Canyon Springs lineup that didn’t have a starter taller than 6-4.

The Pioneers, behind the hard-nosed play of senior swingman Gerad Davis (20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and point guard Shaquile Carr (16 points), trailed just 33-27 at halftime. But Gorman broke it open with the 13-0 spurt to open the third quarter with Zimmerman (6) and Jeter (4) combining for the first 10 points with all the baskets coming within five feet of the rim.

“We stuck with the game plan,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said when asked what he told his team at halftime. “Right from the start we pounded it inside, and work inside out and work that high-low. We just weren’t making shots.”

“Coaches really got on us about executing, finishing strong above the rim, and we really got that done,” Jeter said. “We really executed the game plan in the second half. That’s what really separated us in the second half.”

Meanwhile, Okeke kept the Pioneers honest with his outside shooting, connecting on 4-of-5 attempts beyond the arc.

“Obim has been awesome all year,” Rice said. “Noah gets a lot of attention and Noah deserves that obviously as our leader. … Obim would start on every team in the state. He’s done a heckuva job.”

With Jeter, Zimmerman and the explosive Blair all returning, the Gaels will be big favorites to make it four in a row in 2015.

“The thing I’m proud of is that we haven’t had a drop off,” Rice said. “To go 30-3 this year with the schedule that we play, I’m proud of that.”

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