The last time Bishop Gorman played Hug in boys basketball, Shabazz Muhammad had 36 points as the Gaels routed the Hawks 96-51 in last year’s state final in Reno.
His little brother did a pretty good job against Hug on Thursday.
Rashad Muhammad scored 29 points before leaving with a hip injury with 5:01 left, and the Gaels beat the Hawks 72-52 in the Division I state semifinals at Orleans Arena.
“Shad’s been doing that pretty much the whole second half of the season,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “He’s really gotten us off to some great starts in the first half when other guys have struggled in different games. And once again, Shad got us through that first half.”
The Gaels (28-3), who won the Class 4A title last year, will play Centennial (23-9) for the championship at 8 p.m. Friday at Orleans Arena. Centennial ousted Canyon Springs in overtime, 84-72, in the second semifinal.
Muhammad scored 20 points in the first half for Gorman, which struggled early and led 33-30 at the break. Hug, which trailed Gorman 29-9 after the first quarter of last year’s Class 4A state title game, led 10-4 on Thursday, and the Gaels couldn’t find much cushion.
Until late in the third quarter.
The Gaels began a 15-0 run on a Chase Noma’aea basket with 1:14 to go in the quarter to take control. The run gave the Gaels a 65-44 lead.
“We put a defensive lineup in there, and we got Robert Stanley in there, one of our big-time football guys who hasn’t played a whole lot this year, but brings us a lot of intensity defensively and rebounding,” Rice said. “We were getting beat on the offensive glass, which was really disappointing considering our size.”
After shooting 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from the field in the first half, Gorman was 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) in the third quarter, and didn’t miss any of its eight attempts in the final period.
Hug, meanwhile, was 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) in the second half.
“We just went on a drought where we didn’t score,” Hawks coach Keith Crawford said. “I’m not going to say we couldn’t score. We just didn’t score.”
The drought coincided in part with star big man Sam Williams picking up his third foul with 5:51 to go in the third quarter. Gorman led 38-33 when Williams exited and had pulled away 54-44 when he returned to start of the fourth.
“Our shot selection went backward when Sam went out,” Crawford said. “We started going one-on-one more instead of playing team ball.”
Trey Kennedy added 16 points and four rebounds for Gorman, and 7-foot sophomore Stephen Zimmerman had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.
Muhammad was hurt in a scramble for a loose ball in front of the Gorman bench. Rice said he expects Muhammad to play in the title game Friday.
“I think he’s OK,” Rice said. “He got a little hip pointer, so we’ll have to wait and see. He’s got ice on it right now, and we’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow. Knowing Shad, I think he’ll be ready.”
Raymond Kerr had 14 points for Hug. Williams had 12 points and six rebounds.
"I feel bad for my kids,” Crawford said. “It’s been a fun ride, but I don’t think they represented Hug High School the right way tonight. I don’t think they left it all on the court. I don’t think Gorman’s 20 points better than us.
“We had one intention coming into this game: win the ballgame, and we knew we could. We had them on the ropes and we let them go.”