Charles O’Bannon Jr. of Bishop Gorman High School during the Las Vegas Sun’s High School Basketball Media Day at The South Point, Nov. 11, 2016.
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 | 9:45 p.m.
The Bishop Gorman basketball team entered Thursday night’s regional semifinal without its defensive leader after Jamaal Bey dislocated his shoulder in the previous game.
Faith Lutheran sensed the weakness and attacked early, jumping out to a 17-15 lead after one quarter.
Then Chuck O’Bannon Jr. — normally the Gaels' offensive leader — stepped his game up on the other end of the court.
O’Bannon swatted Faith Lutheran shot attempts and started his own fast breaks during Bishop Gorman’s 14-0 run. The Gaels blew past the Crusaders and cruised to a 71-45 win to move on to the Sunset Region Final on Saturday.
“Starting off the game playing without Jamaal we were a little off, and Faith made some shots and got some confidence,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “In the second quarter we just decided to lock down and play full-court, man-to-man defense.”
O’Bannon finished with a game-high 20 points and added 10 rebounds and four blocks.
“Chuck O’Bannon did a great job on the backside of the defense blocking some shots and rebounding the basketball, and that led to some transition baskets,” Rice said.
The Gaels held Faith Lutheran to only five points in the second quarter during the stretch in which they pulled away.
“We were playing good defense and then getting out and not being selfish,” O’Bannon said.
Ryan Kiley scored 14 for Bishop Gorman and Christian Popoola Jr. pitched in 11 in the win.
Bey first dislocated his left shoulder on Jan. 20 against Sierra Vista and then re-injured it blocking a shot on Tuesday night against Palo Verde. The junior is hopeful to play Saturday in the Gaels’ biggest game of the season.
“We are hoping so but we’re not sure,” Rice said. “He wants to play, of course, but we’ll have to wait and see how he feels.”
The Gaels will take on Clark for the Sunset title at 6 p.m. at Shadow Ridge. The Chargers ended Bishop Gorman’s 75-game NAIA winning streak on Jan. 31.
“We slipped up,” O’Bannon said. “Both times that we’ve played Clark this year we’ve had terrible games, so hopefully we can come out and do what we need to. If everyone comes out and does their part then we will come out with the win.”
Clark was the three-time defending 3A state champion before moving up to the 4A division this year, where Bishop Gorman has won five straight titles.
“I’m not one of those guys that gets things out of losing, but we will definitely use that as motivation,” Rice said. “It was a little wake-up call. We know how good Clark is, so it will be a great matchup.”