Updated December 22, 2018 - 11:33 pm
The Tarkanian Classic championship banner that adorns the gymnasium wall inside Bishop Gorman probably will stay in the same spot until next year.
Because the Gaels are Platinum Division champions for the second consecutive season.
Gorman jumped on Rancho Christian (California) early in the title game Saturday night and coasted to a 61-39 victory for the tournament title. Isaiah Cottrell and Noah Taitz scored 16 points apiece to lead the Gaels, and point guard Zaon Collins anchored a tenacious defensive effort on the perimeter.
Taitz and Collins shared the tournament’s MVP award, and Gaels coach Grant Rice was delighted with the outcome.
For the second consecutive season.
“The tournament went really well. The talent level is increasing,” Rice said. “We had tons of college coaches, scouting services. It was a great week of basketball in Las Vegas.”
The five-day Tarkanian Classic again featured some of the nation’s best players and teams, including the Gaels and Eagles, who both won Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to clinch their berths in the final.
Collins and company hounded Rancho Christian’s guards and double-teamed five-star forwards Evan and Isaiah Mobley, who finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively. And the Gaels engineered a 32-20 halftime lead behind 11 points from Taitz.
“The defense, the way we played defense, I think we frustrated them tonight,” Rice said.
The Gaels nursed a double-figure lead the entire second half and spread the floor to create driving lanes for their guards and dump-off opportunities for Cottrell. They set the tone and slowed the tempo.
And won the tournament.
“It’s crazy, but we expected it,” Cottrell said. “We worked really hard over the whole summer. We were ready for it.”