Gaels get defensive, oust Hug

Bishop Gorman boys basketball coach Grant Rice wouldn’t use Thursday’s game against Hug as an offensive template.

Defensively, it might be a different story.

The Gaels held Hug to 37 points and forced 24 turnovers as Gorman beat the Hawks 52-37 in the Class 4A state semifinals at the Orleans Arena.

“I’m really happy with our defense,” Rice said. “It was just good, hard-nosed man-to-man defense.”

The defensive effort moved the Gaels (27-5) into the state title game at 8 tonight against Palo Verde (24-5). The Panthers advanced with a 68-60 win over Eldorado in the other semifinal.

The Gaels were especially effective in stopping Hug’s leading scorer, Duke Williams. Williams came in averaging 17.7 points and had made game-winning baskets in the team’s last two games. But after making his first shot on Thursday, Williams missed his final 10 attempts and finished with three points.

“We knew Duke Williams had some really good games and a great season,” Rice said. “So we told Kylel Coleman to just keep him in front, and he did a great job on him. If you can limit their best player to that, we’re happy with that every time.”

Like most of the Gaels, senior guard Czar Robotham didn’t have his best offensive game, making just 1 of 5 shots. But Robotham said the players take it upon themselves to help make up for offensive struggles on the other end of the floor.

“If your shot’s not falling, we look to make up for it on the defensive end,” Robotham said. “Get into your man, intensity, pressure and everything else will come.”

Gorman took a 16-9 lead on a steal and layup by Johnathan Loyd at the first-quarter buzzer.

Hug cut its deficit to 29-23 on two free throws by Anthony Johnson with two minutes left in the first half, and Gorman took a 31-23 lead into halftime.

The Hawks (19-10) got within 33-28 on a post bucket by Courtney Gardner with 4:50 left in the third quarter, but that was as close as they would get. Gorman closed the third quarter on an 11-2 run.

The fourth quarter was ugly, as the teams combined for 15 points and had a combined 11 turnovers. The teams scored three points in the final 4:36.

“We didn’t play well offensively,” Rice said. “We were really sloppy on offense. That’s not going to get it done tomorrow night, that’s for sure.”

Coleman led Gorman with 15 points. Alex Turner had nine rebounds for the Gaels.

Robotham said he’s excited about the chance to play for a state title in his senior year.

“It’s an opportunity that you dream about,” he said. “I dreamed about it as a freshman.”

Gorman beat Palo Verde 60-55 for the Sunset Region title last week. The Gaels also topped the Panthers for their last state title in 2005.

“The Palo-Gorman game goes back. It’s just renewed,” Robotham said. “It should be a good game.”

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