The Beach Ball Classic was a new and exciting experience for Franklin (Ohio), but it was simply business as usual for Bishop Gorman (Nev.) as it pulled away for 69-55 victory on Thursday night.
The Gaels, who won the tournament in 2009 and finished third last year, were led by senior forward Rashad Muhammad with 22 points.
Muhammad is the younger brother of current UCLA standout Shabazz Muhammad, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in last year’s tournament.
Gorman was solid inside and out and shot a blistering 61.9 percent from the field in the second half to gradually pull away.
Center Stephen Zimmerman, a 7-0 sophomore, added 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for the Gaels, and Noah Robotham had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Luke Kennard, a 6-5 sophomore, finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, but was just 9-of-26 from the floor. Jeff Pierce added 15 points and Travis Lakins had 12 for Franklin.
Franklin trailed by six at halftime, but tied the game at 39 on a Kennard jumper with 13:02 left, but Gorman closed out the game on a 30-16 run.
“Our school, we don’t get to play in stuff like this, so we really wanted to cherish and seize the moment, and I thought we were right there,” Frankin coach Brian Bales said.
“Our kids were so excited and honored to get invited to play in this tournament,” Bales said. “For us, a chance to compete against a national-level team like Bishop Gorman, I thought our kids came out and competed with a lot of passion and energy. I was really proud of our kids tonight.”
Gorman will likely face a tougher challenge Friday night against Whitney Young (Ill.), a team ranked No. 4 in the nation in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25 rankings and No. 14 in USA Today’s Super 25.
Franklin will play Myrtle Beach at 1:45 p.m. Friday in a consolation bracket game.
Bishop Gorman 34-28.3-point goals:
Franklin 4 (Lakins 2, Hill, Kennard); Bishop Gorman 4 (Okeke, Kennedy, Muhammad, Robotham).Team fouls:
Franklin 15, Bishop Gorman 12.Fouled out: