It was the best high school basketball game of the year, as the state's top program this season, Shadow Mountain High School would face national basketball power Findlay Prep (NV) in front of a standing-room only crowd - making for an amazing basketball atmosphere. Findlay Prep (10-0) has been the nation's top program over the last 10 years - producing many top-rated college basketball prospects and also NBA stars. Findlay would put on an exhibition on Thursday night in a huge 78-32 win over an overmatched Desert Vista HS team - setting up a huge game against Shadow Mountain on Friday evening.
Shadow Mountain (5-1) has destroyed their Arizona competition this season - blowing teams out in a major way in their previous 5 wins. Their matchup with Findlay Prep would be their biggest test this season, while it would also prove to be the biggest test this season for Findlay as well. Last season, Shadow Mountain, without the services of star 6-foot-2 senior guard Michael Bibby (pictured), would lose to Findlay Prep in the Rancho Solano Desert Challenge. This season, in the same event and with the services of a healthy Bibby, Shadow Mountain would come out much more confident - prepared to upset the national power.
In front of a large Shadow Mountain crowd, Shadow Mountain behind the play of Bibby and 6-foot-4 senior guard JJ Rhymes, would put up an epic fight against Findlay. Late in the third period, Shadow Mountain would jump out to a 41-38 lead over Findlay, after a three-pointer from Rhymes. Findlay though would come right back after a two-hand dunk in traffic by 6-foot-9 junior post Tristan Clark - tieing the score at 43 all to end the third period.
The fourth period would become the most exciting quarter of basketball this season. A floater in the lane by Bibby would give Shadow Mountain a 46-43 lead with 6:32 left to play, but a three-pointer from the wing by former Arizona superstar junior guard Markus Howard would put Findlay back up, 49-47 with 4:28 left in regulation. Then a nice two-handed alley-oop dunk by 6-foot-8 junior forward PJ Washington on the break would give Findlay a 53-48, 5-point margin late in the period.
It had looked as though Findlay would begin to pull away and close out the victory, before a a layup by 6-foot-5 junior wing Darion Spottsville and another nice spinning layup from Rhymes. After two free-throws from Bibby and then a costly turnover from Findlay, Shadow Mountain would get the basketball back with seconds left to play. A long, banked three-pointer from Bibby over the outstretched hands of a defender would give the Matadors the lead back, 59-58, with :24 seconds left to play.
But then the play of the game would take place, as JJ Rhymes would earn a technical foul after stepping on the head of PJ Washington, while he was on the floor. The technical would compound as Shadow would also earn another technical foul on Shadow Mountain head coach Mike Bibby. After two technical fouls and gettign the basketball back, Findlay Prep's Markus Howard would calmly sink (4) free-throws, after PJ Washington would make 1 of 2 himself. Findlay would jump back out to a 65-59 lead.
After Michael Bibby would make another three-pointer from the corner, and then 1 of 2 free throws by Findlay Prep, Shadow Mountain would pull to within 3-points, 66-63, and take possession of the basketball with 6.3 seconds remainning. But Shadow Mountain freshman guard Jaelen House would travel the length of the floor, only to miss a desparation three-pointer at the buzzer - giving Findlay Prep a very narrow win, and a huge scare.
Michael Bibby would finish with a game-high 22 points in the loss, while Rhymes would contribute 17. Findlay would be led by 6-foot-9 junior post Oshae Brissett's team-high 15 points, and also 11 points from Markus Howard.
While Shadow Mountain would fall just short in this epic match-up, they would prove that they are definitely the state's top team this season, and will be almost impossible to beat by opposing Arizona teams all season long.