SANTA ANA, Calif. — Eli Bradley subbed out of the game midway through the second quarter right after his third 3-point attempt of the night rimmed out.
He'd splashed his first two tries, and as he walked to the bench, Bishop Gorman head coach Grant Rice presented a challenge.
“I told him he was going to get three more,” Rice said.
Turns out, Rice spoke it into existence. Bradley hit his next three 3s to finish with 15 points off the bench as Bishop Gorman (Nev.), the No. 17 team in the country in the SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25, pulled away and beat Whitney Young (Ill.) 89-59 on Saturday night in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei High School.
It’s a gym Bradley, a 6-foot-4 junior, called home for the last two seasons as a student at Mater Dei when his father Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator for the L.A. Rams. Teammates recognized the left-handed sharpshooter, who finished 5 of 6 from deep, had brought a little something extra.
“(The bench) knew it was a big game for Eli, so they were cheering for him,” Rice said.
Most everything else went Bishop Gorman’s way. Senior Darrion Williams finished with a game-high 24 points while being checked by McDonald’s All-American AJ Casey for long stretches. Jase Richardson, son of former NBA All-Star and Dunk Contest champ Jason Richardson, had 20 points for the Gaels (22-0).
Bishop Gorman led by seven at half. Casey, a Miami commit, had 11 of his team-high 18 points for the Dolphins (14-8).
They exploded right out the gate in the third quarter.
Williams intercepted a pass and finished a wide open fast break dunk out of a timeout late in the third quarter to put the Gaels up 17. Richardson then hit three consecutive 3s — the third in front of a slap-happy Gorman bench — Williams added another to push the lead past 20.
Of their 13 made 3s, the Gaels hit 8 of 10 attempts after halftime.
“After hitting that first one I was like OK, it’s time to go,” Richardson said. “And I hit two more after that, I was hyped. That last one, I felt the energy behind me so I was like ‘OK, it’s really time to put our foot on their throats and just end it.”
After COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada cost the state of Nevada its entire 2020-21 high school basketball season, the Gaels entered this season with a chip on its shoulder. Winners of nine consecutive Nevada state titles, they carried a 14-game win streak from the previous season with a young roster (that streak is now at 34 games).
They start two sophomores — Richardson and John “Juni’ Mobley Jr. — and recently inserted 6-8 freshman Chris Nwuli in the lineup. Seniors Ryan Abelman and Williams have been the team’s stabilizing forces.
On Saturday, Williams carried much of the load offensively, as he’s done at times throughout the season.
“He’s been a leader all year,” Rice said. “He’s been unbelievable. But it’s been a group effort. We’ve got guys who step up at different times.”