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Leader on floor propelled Gaels

Noah Robotham wasn’t the first player you noticed when Bishop Gorman’s boys basketball team took the floor for pregame warmups this season.

All eyes usually were on twin towers Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman or high-flying forward Nick Blair.

But make no mistake. Once the game tipped, Gorman’s fate was often in the hands of its 6-foot point guard.

And Robotham didn’t disappoint, leading the Gaels to their third consecutive state title. For his efforts, he’s the Review-Journal’s state Player of the Year.

“I’m proud that as a team we were playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “And a lot of that had to do with his leadership and him rallying the team for that one, common goal.”

The 7-foot Zimmerman and 6-10 Jeter came into the season with the big reputations, regarded as two of the top recruits in the junior class. But it was Robotham who pushed the team to success.

“They were getting a lot of the attention, and it was well-deserved,” Rice said of his big men. “But our team went because of Noah’s leadership and just his steady play over the year.

“He just became the ultimate leader. I’m just really proud of him. He did everything we asked of him. It’s cliche, but it was like having a coach out there on the floor.”

Robotham was a four-year varsity player, earning experience as a freshman and sophomore on uber-talented Gorman teams featuring Shabazz Muhammad. He took the reins as a junior and led the team to two more state titles.

“He took the leadership role last year, and then his senior year, really showed he was the most important player in the state,” Rice said. “He was our leader from day one. We do have a lot of talent, but everyone knows that Noah was our leader this year. He worked hard every day and just continuously pushed the team.”

Robotham led the team in scoring (16.0), assists (7.1) and steals (3.1). He carried the load early in the season, leading the team in scoring in its first five games. That included a 30-point effort in a 66-62 loss to Curie (Ill.) in which Jeter and Zimmerman combined for 17 points. Curie later forfeited that game.

Robotham followed that up with 23 points in a 60-54 loss to Oak Hill (Va.) that saw Jeter and Zimmerman combine for 13 points.

But the senior playmaker showed he was just as comfortable acting as a distributor once the rest of the Gaels hit their stride.

“That’s really a testament to our team and a testament to where Noah was,” Rice said. “He could have taken more shots, but he elected to be that leader and get more guys involved. I’m as proud of him as I have been of any of our seniors in the past.”

Robotham remained the team’s go-to perimeter scorer and was especially efficient on 3-pointers.

“He always was a good shooter coming in, but really became a real knock-down 3-point shooter,” Rice said. “He shot 42 percent from the 3-point line, and that’s good for anyone, but especially from the point guard position.”

And Robotham continued to be the team’s clear leader throughout the season.

“As much talent as we had up front, Noah was that guy that everyone respected,” Rice said. “The players respected him; the coaches respected him. If we needed to do something differently, Noah was the guy that would speak up. He knew exactly what was needed at different times.

“A point guard can either make you a good coach or a bad coach, and Noah made us look good a lot of times this year.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.

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