Bishop Gorman boys basketball coach Grant Rice thought his team might be in for a dogfight after the Gaels held a one-point lead after one quarter.
Instead, Gorman enjoyed a walk in the park as it cruised to a 95-70 home victory over Western on Thursday night.
“We really didn’t come out and play as hard as we wanted to in the first quarter,” Rice said. “We simply didn’t keep our man in front of us, and therefore we didn’t defend very well.”
The Gaels put the pressure on in the second quarter by employing a stifling, trapping, full-court press. It quickened the pace of the game, working to Gorman’s advantage.
“We were able to get turnovers that led to layups, and it just escalated from there,” Rice said.
Freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who finished with 15 points off the bench, converted a three-point play midway through the second quarter to help the Gaels extend their lead.
“We have never had a freshman like him,” Rice said.
After that, Taylor Spencer made two long 3-pointers, and guard Czar Robotham nailed another 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Gaels a 46-36 advantage.
Rice said Spencer, who finished with four 3-pointers and 19 points, was playing in only his second game after missing seven games with an ankle injury.
Gorman’s backcourt duo of junior point guard John Loyd and senior shooting guard Kylel Coleman combined to score 42 points despite sitting most of the second half. Loyd led all scorers with 23 points.
“John goes 100 percent all the time, no matter what happens,” Rice said. “He’s always the first guy back on defense for us, and he just always plays all out.”
Gorman kept the press on throughout most of the second half and outscored the Warriors, 49-34.
“They were hitting their outside shots and ended up wearing us down,” Western coach Brooks West said. “Our point guard, (De’Andre) Nash, wasn’t at full strength as he’s been recovering from a jaw injury.
“Not only that, we were also without our starting point guard, Johnnie Diggs.”
Diggs aggravated a hip injury in a recent game against Canyon Springs. He should be able to return early next week, West said.
Brad Cairo scored 14 points and Ehbert Talice 13 to lead the Warriors.