February 28, 2014 - 12:13 am
RENO — The play had no real bearing on the outcome of the game.
But when Bishop Gorman’s Nick Blair came up with a steal and posterized a Reno High player with a dunk as the first half ended, it punctuated just how thoroughly the Gaels had outplayed the Huskies.
Blair’s dunk pushed Gorman’s lead to 31 points, and the Gaels cruised to a 68-27 win in the Division I boys state semifinals at Lawlor Events Center.
“We knew we had to come out with intensity and set the tone and just make sure that we had the right attitude and set the tone from the get-go,” Blair said.
The Gaels (28-4) did just that, never trailing and using a 20-1 first-half run to put the game away.
Gorman plays Canyon Springs (25-4), which defeated Spanish Springs 66-51 in the first semifinal, in the state final at 8:10 p.m. today at Lawlor. Gorman is seeking its fifth title in six years.
The Gaels used their size to dominate inside in the first half, outrebounding Reno 26-8 and getting several easy buckets inside.
But no basket was more impressive than Blair’s dunk, which put an exclamation point on a dominant first half.
Reno (19-10) had rebounded a Gorman miss with time running down in the half. But Blair stepped in front of a pass near the top of the key, powered to the hoop and threw down a thunderous slam just before the buzzer.
“I just read it, I saw him throwing it and I just told myself, ‘I’m dunking this one,’ ” Blair said.
Blair was one of several Gorman standouts to post a big first half. He had nine points and six rebounds in the half, and his 3-pointer with 5:21 left in the third quarter pushed the lead to 41 points. The rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Chase Jeter, a 6-foot-10-inch junior, had 14 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots, and 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Gaels. Point guard Noah Robotham added 12 points, four assists and three steals, and fellow guard Obim Okeke had 10 points and four assists.
“We talked in the locker room about making a statement right from the start, and I think our guys were up to that challenge,” said Gorman coach Grant Rice, who pulled his starters for good with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
Rice said he was happy with the way the team responded to the challenge of the state tournament.
“We’ve played a gruesome, grueling schedule this year, and I think our guys are ready because of that schedule we played,” Rice said.
Rice said his team is excited to face Sunrise Region champion Canyon Springs.
“I think that’s the matchup everyone’s been excited about this week,” Rice said. “We’re up for the task, and we’re excited to play them.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter @DamonSeiters.