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Gorman girls dethrone Centennial, capture 5A state title — PHOTOS

Updated February 23, 2024 - 10:46 pm

Bishop Gorman needed to get Aaliah Spaight to the hoop in the fourth quarter, and Centennial wanted to stop her.

The Gaels narrowly won the battle — and ended the Bulldogs’ eight-year reign atop Nevada girls basketball.

Though Spaight, a sophomore guard, was contained in the first half, she took full control down the stretch, finishing with 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the second-seeded Gaels to a 57-53 victory in the Class 5A state championship game Friday at the Thomas &Mack Center.

It’s the fifth state title for Gorman (24-4) and first since 2010.

The victory stopped top-seeded Centennial (19-6) from claiming a ninth straight title.

“I told my team we had nothing to lose,” said Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich, who admitted Centennial’s longtime dominance served as motivation for her squad. “But to get respect, you’ve got to earn it, and we did what we needed to do.”

Though the Gaels trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, they clawed back late and finally took the lead when Spaight nailed a fallaway 8-footer to put her team ahead 55-53 with 1:32 left to play.

“I felt all along that it was our game, and we just needed to execute,” Spaight said. “And that shot gave us the ‘umph’ we needed. It just came down to how much I wanted it.”

Addysen Carr’s shot 26 seconds earlier may have been the real backbreaker. Centennial clung to a 53-50 lead when the freshman nailed a game-tying 3-pointer from the left corner to draw Gorman even for the first time since the first quarter.

“I knew at that moment I needed to knock it down, and that’s what I did,” Carr said. “When that shot went in, I knew it would be big for our momentum.”

After Spaight hit two free throws with 34 seconds remaining to put the Gaels up four, the Bulldogs hurried the ball to the other end of the court, but it was tipped away just outside the key. A scrum ensued, and the Gaels came out with the ball as time expired.

Krmpotich fell onto the floor in tears as her players mobbed one another on the court. She said her team’s second-half transformation was a relief.

“We’re a young team,” she said. “We’d call a play in the first half, and they wouldn’t run it. But Aaliyah’s shot at the end was something I literally drew up for her.”

Led by Jada Price (12 points, five rebounds, three steals) and Nation Williams (13 points, 16 rebounds) the Bulldogs controlled the first half, using a 12-3 run to build a 22-13 lead when Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 4:36 left in the second quarter.

The Gaels closed the deficit to 28-22 by halftime and began seizing momentum in the third quarter with a successful full-court press that appeared to catch Centennial off-guard.

Although Williams pulled down nine rebounds in the fourth quarter, Gorman and a more aggressive version of Spaight slowly closed the gap until breaking through with the key shots in the final two minutes.

Carr, Savannah Searcy and Neeyah Webster scored six points each for Gorman. Danae Powell added 13 points and four rebounds for Centennial.

Contact Jeff Wollard at jwollard@reviewjournal.com.

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