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Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Young and good: Shadow Mountain boys earn hoops victoryDec 6, 2012
The last time that Phoenix Shadow Mountain was considered boys’ basketball royalty was 2000, when the Matadors won the then-Class 5A state championship under then-coach Jerry Conner.
Now there’s a new generation of players. The gym has been named after Conner, and Cain Jagodzinski is in his seventh season as coach.
More than anything, the Matadors would like to find room in their trophy case for a shiny new piece of hardware.
Every day, they are looking more and more like a team that is capable of accomplishing that goal, now in Arizona’s Division II.
They passed a big test on Thursday night (Dec. 6), overcoming early struggles to defeat visiting rival Phoenix Paradise Valley 53-47.
Shadow Mountain raised its record to 12-1, and Paradise Valley fell to 5-2.
The Matadors trailed by eight with 2:39 left in the first quarter, but by the end of the period had closed to within three.
They went on a 17-7 run in the second quarter and led by three at the end of three quarters.
Fresno State-bound Paul Watson scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for Paradise Valley, but Shadow Mountain continued to maintain its advantage. Keegan Hansen scored five of his 17 points in the fourth, including two free throws that put the game away with 9.4 seconds left.
A key element for Shadow Mountain is that three of its starting players are freshmen. That’s right, freshmen. They are Michael Bibby, son of former Shadow Mountain, University of Arizona and NBA player Mike Bibby, Carlos Johnson and JJ Rhymes.
Rhymes scored 10 points, Bibby seven (including a pair of 3-pointers) and Johnson four.
Jagodzninski acknowledged that “freshman jitters’’ were the primary reason for the early deficit, but the jitters disappeared.
“Those three guys are special players, and they belong on this team,’’ Jagodzinski said.
Shadow Mountain seldom slows the pace on offense or defense, so that means liberal substitutions by Jagodzinski.
“The bench also played a big role for us. They helped us make a nice run,’’ he said.
“Paradise Valley has a great team and we haven’t beaten them in awhile. It’s been awhile since we’ve even been able to play with a team like that.’’
Shadow Mountain’s only loss was to Fort Defiance Window Rock in a recent tournament in northern Arizona.
Shadow Mountain doesn’t have much time to enjoy the win over Paradise Valley. It travels to face Phoenix Arcadia on Friday night (Dec. 7) and Paradise Valley plays at home against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep.