Bishop Gorman girls basketball coach Kevin Nixon tells his team that good defense can lead to good offense.
The Gaels played good defense in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Wednesday at Arbor View High School. And then some.
Gorman forced 23 consecutive missed field-goal attempts in the first three quarters and coasted to a 49-18 victory over Canyon Springs to earn a berth opposite Spanish Springs in the 4A semifinals at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Orleans Arena.
The Pioneers (25-5) did not make a field goal until six minutes were left in the game — well after a 35-point Gorman lead had ignited a running clock.
“We’ve got some things we’re working on defensively, and I thought they did a good job on it,” Nixon said. “Basically boxing out and rebounding were our main focal points. Our defense was good. And that’s really what were focused on. In order to win state, we’ve got to pick it up.”
The Gaels (22-8) stymied Canyon Springs with their pressure man-to-man defense in the first quarter and rolled to a 37-8 halftime lead before mixing in some zone looks in the second half. The Pioneers attacked the rim to no avail and began settling for long-range jumpers amid understandable frustration.
“When we’re locked in on defense, I feel like we really click as a team,” Gaels forward Olivia Smith said after scoring a game-high 14 points. “I really focus on talking, keeping my hands up and being active everywhere so my teammates know there’s people on the backside.”
Nixon rode his starters to the 35-point lead early in the third quarter before turning to his reserves for the final 12 minutes.
“It was good for us to get some rest,” he said. “And be ready to bring it tomorrow.”
Desert Oasis rolls past Reno
Desert Oasis embarked on a 27-7 run in the first half en route to a 66-32 quarterfinal win over Reno at Arbor View in its first state tournament game in program history.
The Diamondbacks (21-5) will meet four-time defending state champion Centennial in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Orleans Arena.
“We did a really good job preparing for (Reno), not trying to look past it,” Desert Oasis coach Laurie Evans-Gygax said. “Obviously everyone knows how good Centennial is. We’re up for the challenge.”
The Diamondbacks used their length and quickness in the post and on the perimeter to disrupt Reno’s half-court sets, trigger their transition offense and secure a 33-14 halftime lead.
They unlocked their dribble drive motion offense in the second half, and junior guard Eliyjah Pricebooks converted three catch-and-shoot 3-pointers en route to a game-high 24 points. Ahmaya Smith scored 10 and Desi-Rae Young nine for Desert Oasis.
Kaitlynn Biassou led Reno with 20 points.
“It’s overwhelming,” Pricebooks said. “We’ve never done this before. Just getting here is amazing.”