Muhammad, Gaels save best for last


RENO -- Shabazz Muhammad missed his final shot as a Bishop Gorman senior on Friday night.

It was about the only thing Muhammad did wrong all game.

The 6-foot-6-inch senior swingman scored 36 points as the Gaels rolled to a 96-51 win over Hug in the Class 4A boys state title game at Lawlor Events Center.

"It means a lot," Muhammad said of the title. "It's a great state title for us, and we just came out and had a lot of fun tonight."

Most of Muhammad's fun came in the first half. He scored 30 points, and was 13-for-14 from the field as the Gaels (28-4) took a 59-25 lead over the Hawks (24-4) at the break. Muhammad was 15-for-17 for the game.

"I think I was in a zone," Muhammad said. "My shot and I was getting to the basket and trying to elevate over them. I did so, and had a great night."

Muhammad had five dunks in the first quarter, including a windmill that was only upstaged by a 360 moments later.

After he was done punishing the rim, Muhammad turned to the perimeter as his final three shots of the half were 3-pointers, including one from 25 feet to close his scoring.

"The first half was quite a display," Gorman coach Grant Rice said.

"He's just a special player. And he's going to go down in Nevada history obviously as one of the greats in Nevada high school basketball."

Muhammad's younger brother, Rashad, also had a big first half, scoring all 14 of his points. Rashad Muhammad was 5-for-5 from the field in the first half.

"I probably won't play with him anymore," Shabazz Muhammad said of his younger brother. "It's pretty sad. He did a great job and I love him."

Gorman was 24-for-30 from the field in the first half.

"We shot the ball really, really well," Rice said. "Shabazz had quite a first half. And Rashad came in and showed what he can do."

Rice was quick to credit several other seniors: point guard Gio Guzman, forwards Rosco Allen and Ben Carter, center Demetris Morant and reserve post player Ronnie Stanley. Allen (Stanford), Carter (Oregon) and Morant (UNLV) have all signed to play college basketball.

"Those kind of guys, they're the glue to our team and they do the little things and get it done," Rice said.

Guzman had six assists, Allen had nine rebounds and four assists, Carter had five rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and two steals, Morant had 12 points and two blocked shots and Stanley grabbed 10 rebounds.

"It's an extremely unselfish team," Rice said. "And Shabazz would be the first to say he gets the spotlight because of his scoring and his highlight dunks and his rankings, but we don't win the championship without all those guys. We don't even come close."

Still, the night belonged to Shabazz Muhammad, who widely is considered the top senior in the country.

"A lot of people may consider him the greatest player to ever come out of Nevada," Carter said. "It's great to play with him and just to see how he finished his career off at Gorman with such a great game. I'm so happy for him."

Rice said he's not sure where this team ranks among the best in state history, but it's hard to imagine too many that were better.

"I've only been coaching 10 or 11 years here, but this group of seniors, if you go back in history, it would be tough to find a group that's been as talented as a group and has played together as much and accomplished big-time things."

Carter said it was important for the group of seniors to go out with a state title after losing to Bishop Manogue in the state semifinals last season. Gorman won the title two years ago.

"I wanted to win one for myself," Carter said. "That sophomore year, I was on the team, but I didn't really consider it my ring. To earn this one and to be on the floor playing with these guys for the last time, it's a great feeling."

Said Rice: "We told these guys: 'You've got to win this state championship this year to leave a legacy. Even though you guys were on the team two years ago, we had seniors like Johnathan Loyd and Anson Winder leading the way.' I made it clear to those guys that they needed to win one for themselves. And they've been on a mission."

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

 

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