Bishop Gorman’s top two guards were out of the game.
Jase Richardson left midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury, and John Mobley fouled out late in the fourth.
Tied at 65 with under 10 seconds left, the ball found a Richardson. Guard Ryder Elisaldez’s pass from the right side found Jaxon Richardson flying in the air.
The 6-foot-5-inch freshman wing threw it down for an emphatic dunk, and the crowd at Cox Pavilion roared. It proved to be the game-deciding basket for Bishop Gorman in a 67-65 win over Coronado on Saturday night at the Big City Showdown.
“I don’t want to say we drew that up exactly,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “Ryder (Elisaldez) saw Jaxon open, and Jaxon’s got as much potential as anyone in the city. He’s done it all year for us. He’s one of our most important players and does all the little things.”
Senior wing Keenan Bey led Gorman (13-5, 4-0 Class 5A Southern League) with 15 points, and Mobley added 14.
Coronado (10-8, 2-2) had one final chance with 4.8 seconds left. Junior guard Josiah Cunninghamn was fouled attacking the basket and went to the free-throw line for two shots. But Cunningham, whose right leg bothered him most of the second half after a fall, missed both, sealing the win for the Gaels.
The Cougars led 20-13 after the first quarter as they limited the Gaels to three field goals, but three late 3-pointers for Gorman put it ahead 41-38 at halftime.
Coronado answered in the third quarter with an 8-0 run after Jase Richardson, Jaxon’s brother, went down with his ankle injury to take a five-point lead.
Bey provided a much-needed spark for Gorman as both teams offenses struggled late. He hit a pair of 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter and had a layup that helped Gorman retake the lead.
“Thank goodness we have depth because we had foul trouble and some of the injuries and stuff like that,” Rice said. “We definitely have depth. That’s not a problem.”
Coronado was held to just two points through the final 3:10, a pair of free throws by Sebastian Mack with 25 seconds left.
Mack scored 25 points for Coronado, and Cunningham added 19.
Durango 76, Liberty 69 — In the lead-up to the Trailblazers’ meeting with the reigning Class 5A state champions, coach Chad Beeten knew they had to match the Patriots’ competitiveness.
They did just that, as Durango (11-3, 6-0 5A Southern) avenged its loss to Liberty (11-7, 3-1 5A Southern) at last month’s Tarkanian Classic behind 24 points from junior forward Taj Degourville.
“That’s what we expect from Taj, and that’s what Taj expects from himself,” Beeten said. “When he meets those expectations that we all have of him, which is a good thing to have those expectations, good things happen.”
With Liberty guard Dedan Thomas Jr. leading a balanced scoring attack, the Patriots built a 44-32 lead midway through the third quarter. But then the offense went cold.
Durango slowly chipped away at Liberty’s lead with Degourville and senior guard Tylen Riley attacking the basket. The Patriots led by three early in the fourth quarter, but Durango went on a 15-0 run over 3½ minutes to take a 63-51 lead.
Thomas scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough, as the rest of the Patriots’ offense struggled. The Trailblazers stayed poised down the stretch as Liberty attempted to come back, but the lead they had established was too much for the Patriots to overcome.
“It was our toughness,” Beeten said. “We got out-toughed in the first half, and that was the message at the half. … We just matched toughness and even exceeded it. And fortunately, the ball bounced our way.”
Riley added 17 points for Durango, and sophomore guard Jevon Yapi scored 16. Liberty also beat Durango in last year’s Class 5A Southern Region semifinals 73-68.
Mojave 74, Spring Valley 38 — In a rematch of last year’s Class 4A state title game, the Rattlers showed they are still the team to beat.
Mojave’s suffocating defense was too much for Spring Valley, as the Rattlers capitalized on turnovers to lead into their transition offense.
“We play a lot of tough talent, so the team that is more physical and playing defense wins the game,” Mojave coach KeJuan Clark said. “We don’t want to be on the other side of that physicality, so we try to put a lot of pressure on teams. It’s very important.”
Junior guard Tony Williams led the Rattlers (13-5, 3-0 Class 4A Lake League) with 16 points off the bench. Sophomore guard CJ Shaw scored 12 points, and senior guard Giali Chapman added 10.
Spring Valley (9-9, 2-0 Class 4A Desert League) held a six-point lead late in the first quarter, but Shaw scored eight straight points to give Mojave a 13-11 edge entering the second quarter.
The Rattlers turned up the intensity on defense and outscored the Grizzlies 28-10 in the second quarter to lead by 20 points at halftime. A Williams 3-pointer late in the third quarter put the game on a running clock.
“We preach defense,” Clark said. “We play 94 feet of defense, guard and let the ball fall where it may. We want to execute on offense, take care of the ball, make the easy shots and see what happens. If you do, you’ll give yourself a chance every game to be dominant.”
Junior guard Amanee Ned led Spring Valley with nine points.
Foothill 51, Arbor View 50 — Guards Zak Abdalla and Branden Castro each scored 14 points to push the Falcons (13-7, 2-3 5A Southern) past the Aggies (16-5, 2-3 5A Southern).
Arbor View had one last chance at the win when junior guard Maximus Romero stole an inbound pass was with 2.2 seconds left, but his 3-pointer from half court was off.
Sophomore forward Brian Townsend led the Aggies with 21 points. The teams combined to make 16 3-pointers.
Las Vegas 50, Sierra Vista 44 — Senior guard Marcus Gomez scored 20 points as the Wildcats outlasted the Mountain Lions.
After Sierra Vista (7-11, 1-2 4A Desert) took a one-point lead in the third quarter, Las Vegas answered with a 10-0 run to retake the lead and never gave it back.
Sophomore guard EJ Dacuma scored 13 points to lead the Mountain Lions, and sophomore center Xavion Staton added 12. Senior guard Jordan Massey added 12 points for Las Vegas (12-7, 3-0 4A Lake).
Centennial 72, Liberty 56 — The Bulldogs didn’t have it easy in their win against the Patriots.
Despite trailing by as many as 23 points, Liberty gave the reigning seven-time state champions fits down the stretch.
Junior guard Danane Powell led the Bulldogs (13-1, 5-0 5A Southern) with 14 points, and senior forward Charlece Ohiarei scored 13. Senior forward Ali’a Matavao scored 22 points for Liberty (11-9, 4-1 5A Southern).
Centennial led by 15 points late in the first quarter and used an 18-2 run midway through the second quarter to lead 42-19. However, Liberty closed the second quarter on an 11-1 run and trailed only 43-30 at halftime.
The Bulldogs’ full-court defense limited any Liberty success in the third quarter. Centennial allowed just two field goals, and its lead grew back to 23.
Liberty had one last gasp, going on a 14-0 run as time ran down in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 11, but the Patriots didn’t score another point in the final 2:25.
Coronado 60, Bishop Gorman 50 — Kaylee Walters scored 22 points to help the Cougars hold off the Gaels in the event’s first game.
The senior guard hit four 3-pointers as Coronado (12-5, 3-1 5A Southern) led 31-16 at halftime. Junior guard Selina Guitterrez led Bishop Gorman (10-10, 1-3 5A Southern) with 22 points.