Shadow Mountain High School (16-8) is beginning their quest for another state championship, their fifth in a row. In the state's 4A Division, this season the Matadors have had a much tougher road this season, than in year's past when they absolutely blew out their competition in the division. This season has been a much different experience thus far for Shadow, but the coaching staff believes they are now ready to get it done.
The pursuit for this year's repeat 4A State Title ultimately began on Friday evening in a 4A state playoff play-in game with Seton Catholic HS. Seton Catholic (7-19) has struggled this season, but came into Friday night's match-up as winners of (4) of their last (6) games.
Shadow Mountain though would enter the game with the services of their star guard, 6-foot-4 senior Shemar Morrow. Morrow had been academically ineligible for a period this season, and would receive clearance by the school to play earlier on Friday. Morrow had been a member of Shadow Mountain's last (3) state champion victories, and is one of the state's top unsigned senior prospects. Morrow would have a huge night for the Matadors.
Shadow Mountain is loaded with athletic talent, and when they are focused defensively and playing together, they are tough to beat. Their defensive intensity would help them to a big and early lead in the contest Friday evening. Shadow Mountain would lead 15-4 after the first period, after a long range three-pointer from the wing by Morrow, and then a coast-2-coast dunk in transition by Morrow would help the Matadors finish off the first quarter very strong.
Seton Catholic would look to get back in the second period, after a three-pointer from 6-foot senior guard Sam Spindler. But Morrow would come back for Shadow - converting a 30-foot three-pointer, and then a basket in the secondary break by Morrow. Shadow would jump out to a 20-8 lead.
With three minutes left to play, 6-foot-4 junior forward Elijah Cole would go baseline and finish a two-handed dunk. Cole's defensive effort on the Seton guards would be instrumental in helping the team blow the game wide open late in the half. After another long-range three-pointer from Morrow, and then a 25-foot three-pointer from Morrow, Shadow would jump out to a big 32-12 halftime lead. Morrow would finish with a game-high 19 points in the first half.
In the second half, Shadow Mountain would continue their terrific defensive effort on the Seton guards, and after a three-pointer from the corner by 6-foot-4 senior guard Davon Cobbs, Shadow would jump out to a huge 44-17 lead.
The game was looking like a complete blowout at that point, but veteran Head Coach Commander King and his Seton team would not lie down, and instead would fight hard to come back behind their three-point shooting. Back-2-back three-pointers from Seton would help them close out the third period with serious momentum going into the final period, 51-35.
In the fourth period, Seton would quickly close in on the Shadow Mountain lead. After Cobbs would earn his second technical foul for hanging on the rim with 6:38 left to play, Seton would narrow the Shadow lead to (9) points, 54-45, after a three-pointer off the dribble from 6-foot-4 senior guard Michael Hanson.
But Morrow, who had slowed down his offensive onslaught since the first half, would come back with another three-pointer for his team to give Shadow a 58-47 lead with 4:21 left to play.
Seton would make it 61-55 with 1:40 left to play after a three-pointer from 5-foot-10 junior guard Anthony Flores in the secondary break, but Shadow would close out the state tournament play-in win after a steal and a two-handed dunk late by 6-foot-4 senior guard Jalen Williams - giving Shadow the 71-57 win.
Shemar Morrow would lead all scorers with a game-high 27 points, while Michael Hanson would lead Seton with a team-high 17 points.
Shadow Mountain will now advance to the 4A State Playoffs where they will continue their pursuit, and will next face a very tough Buckeye High School (23-4) team that is also looking to win it all this season. It will be a very exciting contest. on Tuesday (2/18) @ Buckeye.
"I know we can win it all this season," said Shadow Mountain Head Coach Curtis Millage. "We have been through a lot as a team, which has prepared us for this."
Recruiting Notes: Shadow Mountain HS 6-foot-4 senior guard Shemar Morrow is among the most talented and gifted unsigned senior prospects still available. Unfortunately for Morrow, it has already been determined that he will need to go the juco route next fall before landing at a division-I program. Morrow is a serious talent that would receive atleast mid-major college recruitment if he was an academic qualifier. Look for Morrow to receive loads of national junior college attention for his services next fall, as he is definitely one of the top available prospects in the West. Morrow was once regarded among the top 20 overall prospects in America's 2020 Class in middle school. He has had an illustrious high school career as well, so look for junior college programs to be all over him this spring.