Overmatched in size and athleticism, the closest the Tigers came to winning against Gorman was the tip-off. After even that fell the Gaels’ way, it was clear that it was going to be a long night for the Douglas faithful.
Littered with talent throughout their lineup, including the top-ranked basketball player in the nation and three other Division I recruits, the Gaels looked more like the Globetrotters while the Tigers looked like kids who had gotten lost on the playground.
Scoring four seconds into the contest, Gorman threw down dunks and alley-oops at will en route to a 24-0 lead. With 1:50 left to play in the first quarter, Douglas finally got on the board after missing its first 13 shots when Nick Maestretti dropped a runner in the lane and knocked down a subsequent free throw.
“They had 21 defensive rebounds just because we missed shots,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “Guys were taking open looks like we’ve practiced and like we’ve worked all year. If half of those fall, instead of 0-26 it might be 13-26 and help us out a little bit.”
With the team from Vegas holding a 26-5 advantage and the disastrous first quarter finally over, the Tigers settled down and shook their jitters out, but the hole was too deep.
“We kept with that theme of starting the game really quickly,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “That’s been the start the last four games or three games in the zone tournament and then tonight we came out and had a lead and played well in the first quarter. We really set the tone for the game.”
Douglas cut the lead down to 20 with 5:30 left in the second quarter and the score at 30-10, but a dunk from Shabazz Muhammad emphatically ended the Tigers’ scoring and started an 8-0 spurt in less than a minute from the Gaels for a 38-20 lead with 3:37 until halftime. Gorman went into the break with a comfortable 44-20 lead. Muhammad, widely considered the top prospect in the country, outscored Douglas 22-20 in the first half.
The buckets kept dropping for the Gaels in the third and kept missing for Douglas as the Tigers scored a mere four points in the eight minutes after the intermission. With Gorman (27-4) pouring in the points, the running-clock rule went into effect with under two minutes left in the third. The scoreboard read 69-24 with just the fourth quarter remaining.
Gorman’s third string of players got playing time in the fourth, leading to the only quarter that the Tigers won, outscoring the Gaels 14-4, leading to the 73-38 final.
“They got after it right away,” Thacker said of Gorman. “It took until their third string until something really got going for us. They’re solid. Our kids were ready and knew what they were doing, but you just can’t simulate or get after their speed in transition and length. They play solid all the time and they’re very deep. I guarantee tomorrow they’ll play the same game, with top 10 dunks, top 10 SportsCenter highlight reel plays. You can’t give up transition points like that. They’re a tough team.”
Muhammad led the way to victory for the Gaels with 27 points. Forward Demetris Morant tallied 14 points, while guard Ben Carter chipped in with 10 points.
Douglas (20-11) was led by Maestretti’s 11 points, while guard Connor Hughes added eight.