Centennial has good size for a high school boys basketball team, with three starters standing between 6 feet, 5 inches and 6-7.
Bishop Gorman’s boys made the Bulldogs look downright small on Friday.
The Gaels blocked 11 shots and altered countless others as they rolled to a 78-52 win over Centennial in the Sunset Region title game at Durango. It was Gorman’s sixth consecutive Sunset title.
“We just didn’t get into our offensive sets, but Gorman makes you do that,” Centennial coach Todd Allen said. “I don’t know, we were just outmatched.”
Gorman’s size is ridiculous by high school standards. With a front line of 7-foot Stephen Zimmerman, 6-10 Chase Jeter and 6-6 Nick Blair, the Gaels (27-4) make things difficult for the opposition, especially around the basket. Zimmerman finished with a game-high four blocked shots. Blair may not actually match his listed height, but his impressive athleticism means he plays even bigger. He blocked three shots. And for good measure, Gorman brings 6-9 sophomore Zach Collins off the bench.
“You’ve got Zim and Chase and then Zach Collins in there as well, and Nick Blair is a shot blocker, as well, with his athleticism,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “We tried to direct the guys into the bigs and let them do their thing.”
Gorman led 31-22 at the half, but really cranked up the defensive intensity in the second half. Centennial (25-4) started the third quarter 1-for-14 from the field as Gorman pushed the lead to 46-25.
“We came out with a lot of intensity (in the second half),” said Zimmerman, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds. “That helped us out a lot. We were really hyped. We love doing this. This is our favorite thing. We had a lot of intentions to go out there and just beat them by as much as we possibly could.”
The Gaels were 33-for-57 (57.9 percent) from the field. They held Centennial to just 18-for-59 (30.5 percent).
Gorman led by 17 going into the fourth quarter, and the Gaels put on a show midway through the final quarter with three consecutive dunks — two by Jeter and one by Blair — to extend the lead to 71-46.
“We felt like we were playing a little too slow,” Rice said. “So at halftime, we talked about speeding up the pace. And it was really our defense. The defense led to offense. We got some dunks. When we get some transition and some dunks, that gets us going.”
Jeter had 20 points, and Blair added 17 points and five assists for Gorman, which earned a trip to next week’s state tournament in Reno. The Gaels will be looking for their third straight state title.
“We’re excited,” Rice said. “We love going up to Reno. “Obviously if you’re going to Reno, it’s for a good reason. Our goal was to get to Reno, and now obviously our goal is to try to win another couple games.”
Centennial freshman Troy Brown put on a show of his own, especially in the second half. The 6-5 guard finished with a game-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. He scored Centennial’s first nine points of the fourth quarter, but got little help.
Senior Eddie Davis, who scored 22 points and was 6-for-9 on 3-pointers in the semifinals on Thursday, finished with two points and missed all three of his 3-point attempts. Garrett Scheer and freshman Isaiah Banks each added seven points for the Bulldogs, who lost to Gorman for the third time this season.
“We had a heck of a season, so we’ve accomplished a lot this year,” Allen said. “We’ll just build from that. It’s so hard to get here, and a lot of teams don’t get to this point. I’m proud of their effort.”