After Clark had closed to within five points at halftime of the Class 4A boys state championship game Friday night, Bishop Gorman’s game plan was simple: Get the ball to the tallest kid on the floor.
Isaiah Cottrell, Gorman’s 6-foot-10-inch junior center, scored 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter to help the Gaels to a 68-60 win over the Chargers at Orleans Arena.
The title was Gorman’s eighth straight. The Gaels (28-4) went 4-0 against Clark (25-6) this season and have defeated the Chargers 10 consecutive times.
“Just great communication,” Cottrell said. “I’ve got to give it up to the guards for dissecting the defense and making sure they find the open man.”
Cottrell was 6-for-6 from the field in the second half and 9-for-11 in the game. He added six rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Isaiah was really good the last couple games,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “He just played his role and didn’t try to do too much, and that showed you how good he is.”
Once the Gaels extended their lead, they were able to spread the floor and rely on the ballhandling of their four starting guards.
“It’s a lot of relief,” Cottrell said of getting the lead and spreading the floor. “It makes everything so much easier, because then we can really focus on defense.”
Once those guards broke the pressure, it often led to an easy bucket for Cottrell.
“It’s a lot of easy points, a lot of easy baskets,” Cottrell said. “And most of the dunks are momentum changers, for sure.”
The game wasn’t as close as the final score, as the Gaels extended their lead to 68-49 with 54 seconds to play. Clark’s reserves then forced four turnovers down the stretch and closed the game on an 11-0 run.
“This one feels good, because that Clark team is a really good team,” Rice said. “To beat them four times in a year and 11 times in three years is quite an accomplishment, and I’m pretty proud of that.”
Carlos Allen scored 15 points to lead Clark. Antwon Jackson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Jalen Hill scored 14.
“Those seniors they’ve got — Ian Alexander, Antwon Jackson and Jalen Hill — those guys are really good players and great kids,” Rice said. “They’ve had a great four years in Las Vegas.”
Zaon Collins scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, and Will McClendon added 12 points and eight assists for the Gaels, who will return four starters next season.
“It’s crazy,” Cottrell said of winning eight in a row. “We continued the legacy, and we’re living up to what the guys left behind.”