I have been predicting all season long that Shadow Mountain would have the best team in the state for the next two years, but this year's talented group of young prospects proved that they would be prepared for such a claim a year earlier - winning this year's Division-II state championship on Saturday with a big 83-58 route of Flagstaff High School (27-4).
Shadow Mountain (29-3) had squeaked past Catalina Foothills and Cienega HS on the way to this year's state championship game, needing late game heroics from 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Mike Bibby Jr. to win both contests. On Saturday, the Matadors put it all together in a big way to blow out a surging Flagstaff group that had won their last 18 games in a row on the season.
Shadow Mountain would uild an early 20+ point lead in the game's first half, behind the strong play of their consistent trio of sophomores - Bibby, 6-foot-4 sophomore JJ Rhymes and 6-foot-5 sophomore post Carlos Johnson. Bibby would finish with a game-high 27 points and 8 assists, which included (7) three-pointers, while Johnson would dominate with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Rhymes would also contribute 17 points and 7 rebounds in the victory.
This talented sophomore trio would come up big for Shadow Mountain all season long, and will be back together for two more years to dominate the state. And so will former Arizona basketball legend and former NBA star guard Mike Bibby Sr. Bibby was listed as the program's assistant coach this season, but led the team all season long from the bench, and coached the team in Saturday's championship game, while head coach Jerry Conner missed the game due to a family death.