Shadow Mountain High School (7-2) will have a very tough schedule this season, and they have already faced some of the top talent in America already this season - losing their only game of the season thus far to 3-time defending state champion Corona Del Sol HS. With their former contest against Corona, and a future game against historic power DeMatha High School (MD), nothing can prepare a team for a match-up with the nation's premier high school program - Findlay Prep (NV).
Findlay Prep (10-0) has produced loads of NBA players and high-major division-I college talent over the past decade, and it has become common place annually now for Arizona basketball enthusiasts to have an opportunity to witness this program each high school season against the state's top high school teams. Last season, eventual state champion Corona Del Sol would accept their only loss of the high school season after competing against Findlay, but would become better as a team as a result of the match-up.
On Saturday evening in front of a nice crowd of fans, Shadow Mountain would get their chance to upset the national power.
Shadow Mountain is a loaded team for the state of Arizona, and has had tremendous success the last two seasons in the state. The atmosphere of Findlay Prep and their loaded roster of high-major players facing a talented Shadow Mountain team, led by former NBA player and Arizona basketball legend Mike Bibby was a very nice setting for an Arizona high school basketball game.
Unfortunately for Shadow Mountain HS, star junior guard Mike Bibby Jr. would reinjure his knee in the first quarter of the game. Bibby had missed the entire spring and summer club competition this club season as a result of the injury, and so when he went down on Saturday evening it did not look good. Bibby would not return in the game - leaving a major void for the Matadors in the backcourt. But 6-foot-3 ultra-talented junior guard JJ Rhymes (pictured) would pick up the slack for his teammate and also head coach Mike Bibby - absolutely putting his team on his back in the game's first half.
Shadow Mountain would hold on to a lead in the game's second period, 23-18, before back-to-back baskets by 6-foot-2 junior point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. would tie the game. But JJ Rhymes would come right back with two free-throws after being fouled, and then a nice mid-range pull-up jump shot over a defender just before the half to bring Shadow to winthin two points at halftime - 37-35 in Findlay's favor.
Findlay Prep is as loaded a high school team as you will ever see in real life. They are very well balanced in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 classes, so the tradition will continue to build. As a team, it seems as though they can turn it on whenever they want to, and have the ability to blow out their opponent with numerous scoring outbursts and a team that is deeply loaded with talent and wears teams down.
In the second half, Findlay would show just how good they can be as they would outscore Shadow Mountain 46 to 31. Back-to-back steals and transition dunks by 6-foot-8 junior forward Justin Jackson (UNLV commit) and 6-foot-5 senior guard Allonzo Trier (University of Arizona signee) would put Findlay up by 10 points, before 6-foot-8 senior forward Horace Spencer (University of Auburn commit) would then it going.
Spencer sat for much of the first half in foul trouble, but he would make his presence felt in the second half, as the Matadors could not keep him off the glass. Spencer would score 10 points in the third period to give Findlay Prep some serious momentum. To make matters worse, Allonzo Trier would knock down a contested 25-foot jump shot at the 3rd quarter buzzer to put Findlay ahead 66-53.
In the fourth period, Shadow Mountain would look to try to make it a close game, but Findlay Prep would prove to be just too much for Shadow Mountain. Final score 83-66 Findlay Prep.
JJ Rhymes would have a very strong performance and lead all scorers with a game-high 25 points, while senior guard Craig Randall would finish with 15 points.
Findlay would, of course, get a very well-balanced attack on the evening, as Justin Jackson would finish with a team-high 24 points, Derryck Thornton would finish with 17 points and Horace Spencer would pour in 16 points.