There must be something about even numbered years and Shadow Mountain Basketball.
Nearly two years to the day after a sophomore-led team helped Mike Bibby win his first state championship as a coach, the Matadors doubled their pleasure jumping out to a big early lead and cruising to a 86-55 Division II title game win over Agua Fria at Gila River Arena.
“We worked hard for this,” Coach Bibby said at mid-court shortly after the win. “I didn’t just start during the playoffs. We’ve been working hard and preparing for this ever since we stepped on the court during the summer so I’m glad for the kids.”
Senior Michael Bibby, as he’s done some many times in his four-year varsity career, helped ignite a first half scoring spree netting 15 points and adding four steals as Shadow went to the locker room with a 41-29 cushion. Mike Bibby’s team forced 10 Owl turnovers, nine coming on steals as the pressure defense seemed to rattle the second-seed.
Shadow continued to push the tempo and their lead in the third quarter as the margin ballooned to 20 as fellow senior JJ Rhymes and talented freshman Jaelen House (Michael Bibby’s cousin) joined the double-figure scoring party. The top scoring trio all season combined for 54 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists.
“We knew they were going to come out strong,” Rhymes said of the Owls. “We knew we had to [match their tempo] and we did.”
Despite missing a break away dunk Bibby’s final prep game was impressive posting game highs in points (22), rebounds (10), assists (six) and steals (five).
“I worked my butt off to get back to where I am today,” Bibby said coming off two knee surgeries. “Getting [a championship trophy] at the end of my high school career means the world to me.”
Agua Fria had three players in double figures paced by forward Isaiah Johns’ 14 points and team-high eight rebounds.