A dominating start where Phoenix Shadow Mountain dropped 25 points in the first quarter made all the difference Friday as the Division II defending champs cruised to a 68-48 victory over Phoenix Arcadia at Shadow Mountain High.
Shadow Mountain’s defense played as well as its offense out the gate, holding Arcadia to just seven points in the first quarter.
“I think we were doing a really good job of ball pressure early on and not letting them go where they wanted to go,” Shadow Mountain coach Michael Warren said.
Arcadia’s offense settled down a bit in the second quarter, but Shadow Mountain kept pace and led 37-21 at halftime.
“We came out with a game plan and did what we had to do,” junior small forward J.J. Rhymes said.
Rhymes had 15 points in the first half and ended the night with 27. He was also big difference off the boards and on defense as well.
Rhymes got some help on offense from senior point guard/shooting guard Craig Randall, who had 18 points on the night and was tasked with the difficult job of guarding Arcadia’s leading scorer Connor Nichols. Nichols finished the night 11 points.
“We know he can really play, and he can really shoot,” Warren said of Nichols. “Craig Randall did a really good job on him, but he’s a really, really good player, and it just wasn’t his night.”
Shadow Mountain improves to 11-5 with this win over section opponent Arcadia. The team travels to Tempe Corona del Sol on Jan. 12 for a rematch of the earlier season contest where Corona del Sol won 79-74.
Division I defending champion Corona del Sol is the only in-state team to defeat Shadow Mountain so far this year. Rhymes said the key to a victory on Monday will be defense.
“We’ve got to stop a lot of great players,” he said. “And we’ve got to be confident going into their school. Big crowd. It’s going to be a big one. We’ve just got to play basketball.”
Shadow Mountain is playing without starting point guard Michael Bibby right now, who suffered a knee injury earlier this season.