Shadow Mountain (Ariz.), the only public school in DICK'S Nationals boys field, relishes underdog role

Shadow Mountain (Ariz.), the only public school in DICK'S Nationals boys field, relishes underdog role

DICK'S High School Nationals

Shadow Mountain (Ariz.), the only public school in DICK'S Nationals boys field, relishes underdog role

Phoenix (Ariz.) Shadow Mountain’s boys basketball team will be the only public school among the eight teams in Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals beginning Thursday at Christ the King High School in New York.

For the first game, they’ll be without their best defensive guard, sophomore Jaelen House, who averaged 22 points during their 27-0 state championship season.

MORE: DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals live schedule, results

PREVIEW: Montverde Academy (Fla.) vs. Shadow Mountain (Ariz.)

House will travel with Shadow Mountain but he has to sit out Thursday’s noon ET 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 coach Mike Bibby gave his team about a week off after winning state, before going back at it.

“We keep them in the aspect of the way we play,” Bibby said. “Just work, keep them in shape, and try not to give them too much.”

House has been working out with the team.

The Matadors rely on guard play, setting a fast tempo predicated on a trapping, helping defense.

Montverde (24-4) will be an animal unlike any Shadow Mountain has faced since losing to Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei late in the 2015-16 season at Mater Dei, 79-72. Montverde, which had a 55-game home court winning streak snapped in January by Philadelphia’s Imhotep Charter in the final of Monverde’s invitational, has nine players who are at least 6 feet 7, including a pair of 6-10 players. Sean Mobley and Sandro Mamaukelashvili punish teams in the paint.

R.J. Barrett’s ability to hit 3s opens so many options for Montverde.

“We know that we’re undersized,” Bibby said. “We think our quickness and defense make up for that. We’re going to play the same way we’ve played all year and do what we do.

“We’ll put some different plays in. But our defense will be our offense.”

Shadow Mountain has won 33 consecutive games, since the Mater Dei loss. This season, the Matadors outscored their opponents by an average score of 85-53.

They’ll lean heavily on senior All-Arizona guard Marcus Shaver and sophomore guard Jovan Blacksher. Both are good defenders with speed, quickness and the ability to hit 3-pointers.

They’ll miss House, but House not being able to play has driven the rest of the players.

Senior 6-3 wing Darion Spottsville is looking forward to the opportunity.

“They doubt us,” he said. “But we know what we can do. We’ll go out there and do what we know we can do.”

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