Shadow Mountain would turn in the best effort of the high school season this year, and as a result, they would compete at a high level against one of the nation's premier teams in the country. As a result, the team would go into a battle with a team that is known for playing on the highest stage and winning. Shadow Mountain is also widely known for winning as well in their state.
Shadow Mouintain High School won this yar's 2017 state title after winning the 5A Division state championship. Shadow Mountain has been the class of the state this season, as they have ripped through the Arizona competition in the state over the past ten years. But this was their biggest test to date, and Shadow Mountain would not disappoint - putting up serious test for Montverde.
Unfortunately, for Shadow Mountain, they would be without their star guard and best defensive guard, sophomore Jaelen House, who averaged 22 points during their 27-0 state championship season.
House would travel with Shadow Mountain but he had to sit out Thursday's game against Montverde Academy (Fla.), because of an Arizona Interscholastic Association bylaw that calls for an automatic next-game suspension if ejected from a game.
House, the son of former Arizona State and NBA guard Eddie House, was ejected, along with Tucson Salpointe guard Isaac Cruz, for a fight with seven seconds left in the third quarter of Shadow Mountain's 81-48 4A championship victory at Gila River Arena in Glendale on Feb. 25.
Shadow Mountain would eventually lose their first game of the high school season - falling to Montverde 74-61 at New York's Christ the King High School in the opening round of the Dick's Nationals boys basketball tournament.
Montverde (25-4) has won two Dick's national championships in the history of the prestigious tournament that is televised by ESPNU.
Shadow Mountain's last loss before Thursday was against Mater Dei (CA) in 2016.
Shadow Mountain (27-1), the only public school in the eight-team field, looked tight to begin the game, missing open short shots and free throws, and getting beat on transition by a huge Montverde team (25-4) that featured several future Division I college players, including sophomore wing R.J. Barrett, who had 24 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Senior guard Marcus Shaver and superb sophomore guard Jovan Blacksher started slowly for Shadow Mountain, but they picked it up during the second quarter, helping Shadow Mountain surge ahead 37-36 at the half. Shaver finished with 14 points and Blacksher 12 in the first half.
Montverde's size took over in the second half with too many second-chance points. Shadow Mountain while possessing some of the best guards in the country, lacks any true size and it hurt them in this game.
"There were too many offensive rebounds," Bibby said. "Even if we did get a stop, they had a put-back every time."
Shadow Mountain though made the state of Arizona proud in this game - playing as hard as they could to win the game, and in the process, making a believer out of the many basketball scouts and media in attendance. A job well done by Shadow Mountain.