Talent-laden Gaels return, dogged by unfulfilled goal

Bishop Gorman's boys basketball team certainly had big moments last season.

Twenty-five wins? Check.

Southwest League and Sunset Region titles? Check.

A win over the No. 3 team in the nation on national television? Check.

But all of that couldn't make up for the team's surprising 45-44 loss to Bishop Manogue in the Class 4A state semifinals. And it's that loss that the Gaels can't forget.

"It's on their minds," coach Grant Rice said. "We've brought it up a few times, and I'm sure we'll have some more talks about that any time they get complacent. Not so much that specific game, but the fact that we didn't accomplish anything last year.

"We had a nice season and had some big wins, but really fell short of our goal at the end of the year."

The Gaels certainly have more than enough talent to open the season as the favorites to win the state title. In fact, Gorman enters No. 7 in the ESPNHS national rankings, a spot ahead of local basketball factory Findlay Prep.

The loss to Manogue only adds to the Gaels' motivation.

"It's definitely fuel for this year, just knowing that we have something to prove this year as a group," said senior Rosco Allen, a 6-foot-9-inch small forward who has signed with Stanford. "We have eight or nine seniors. It's our last year; we've got to prove ourselves.

"We want to just end with a bang."

Allen is one of several stars for Gorman. It all starts with 6-6 swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the consensus national No. 1 player in the senior class. Add Allen and 6-8 power forward Ben Carter, who has signed with Oregon, and the Gaels have a team that's going to be tough to match.

But the Gaels' talent goes much deeper.

Demetris Morant, a 6-8 post player, couldn't crack Gorman's starting lineup last year, but has signed with UNLV. The Gaels also return 6-7 senior center Ronnie Stanley, who was a second-team All-Southwest League pick.

Stanley, a top football prospect, will miss the start of basketball season after dislocating his left elbow against Palo Verde last week, but 6-10 freshman Stephen Zimmerman should help ease that loss. Zimmerman reportedly already has scholarship offers from several teams, including UNLV, UCLA, and Connecticut.

"This is a big team, without a doubt," Rice said. "This is the biggest team we've ever had, and there's not going to be many high school teams that can match the size we have."

Improved point guard play could be the key to bringing it all together for the Gaels. They used several players at the point last season, including Allen.

But Rice said he thinks a rotation of senior Gio Guzman, sophomore Noah Robotham and juniors Trey Kennedy and Rashaad Muhammad gives the Gaels plenty of talent at the point.

Guzman and Robotham saw plenty of action there last season. Rashad Muhammad hasn't been able to get many minutes on the wings with older brother Shabazz and Allen blocking the way, so he'll also see time at the point.

"Right now, we're real comfortable with all four of those guys," Rice said. "They know what needs to be done. We've got guys on the team that can score, and they just need to run the team and get the ball to the guys that need to have it."

Rice and Allen stopped short of making predictions or announcing goals.

"We want to win as many games as we can, improve every game and keep getting better throughout the season, and have a great, enjoyable year," Allen said.

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