Richard Obert takes a look at which teams and players stood out during high school boys basketball tournaments played throughout Thanksgiving weekend.
In the spotlight
Phoenix Shadow Mountain dominated the inaugural Gilbert Classic, behind guards Michael Bibby and JJ Rhymes. Both players led the Division II top-ranked team in scoring all four games. Rhymes was named Outstanding Player of the tournament, after Shadow Mountain defeated host Gilbert 80-56 in the championship game. Shadow Mountain scored more than 75 points in all four of its wins, taking each game by double digits. Rhymes and Bibby averaged 24 and 22.7 points, respectively, throughout the tournament. “We run a lot,” said coach Mike Bibby, whose only complaint was the use of a running clock after his team got up by 30 in the games. “They don’t need a running clock. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen. Some of the guys don’t play much. Now with the running clock, the records that were held for so long can’t be broken.” Shadow Mountain (4-0) is off this week. Its next game is Dec. 8 against Gilbert Williams Field.
Under the radar
Glendale Mountain Ridge, unranked in preseason, came out of nowhere (or did they?) to capture the Fear The Hop tournament at Mesa. Mountain Ridge went 5-0 and beat preseason No. 4 (Division I) Gilbert Highland 55-52 in the final, despite Highland big man Tim Fuller’s 14 points and 12 rebounds. Mountain Ridge coach Eli Lopez knew this would be a turnaround season after going 7-14 last year. This is a strong defensive team that shoots well and also took down preseason No. 3 Mesa in the semifinals. Mountain Ridge came in as an unknown, but coach Lopez said his team had a strong summer. Josh and Jay Green, brothers from Australia, moved in during the summer to solidify the team. Josh is a 6-6 sophomore and Jay a 6-4 freshman. Both start and complement a strong rotation of seven players. “They’re a big hit on campus with their accent,” Lopez said. Mesa finished third in its tournament with Scottsdale Saguaro fourth. Saguaro suited up only seven players for the tournament because of injuries and the football state championship game.
Making a move
Anthem Boulder Creek, another unranked team coming into the season, captured the Paradise Valley Invitational title, behind 6-foot-5 senior swingman Nick Johnson who was named the Most Valuable Player. Boulder Creek beat Gilbert Perry (63-50), Phoenix Horizon (87-71), Paradise Valley (44-40) and Glendale Apollo (75-72). Johnson, who had 18 points in the final, had help from Matt Downey (18) and Justin Braun (17), whose brother is Grand Canyon University guard Joshua Braun. That combination, Apollo coach Jacob Marin said, “was difficult to deal with.” But Apollo did a great job getting back into the championship game after falling behind 20-3 in the first quarter. Apollo will be a difficult team in Division II behind guards Holland Woods and Dre Marin. Woods had 33 points and five assists in the championship game. “Our guys showed a ton of resolve and just continued to battle,” Marin said. “We outscored them by 14 points after the first quarter and played better as the game went along. However, every time we would really get on a run, one of those three seemed to make a play and they maintained control.”
On the rise
Chandler Basha won the Tucson Salpointe Tip-Off Classic, behind strong all-around play by junior power forward Gabe McGlothan and senior center Devin Kirby, who both made the all-tournament team. Basha beat host Salpointe 80-60 in the final to improve to 5-0. Basha won a hard-fought semifinal game over Tucson Sunnyside, 49-45.
Around the state
– Host Sierra Vista Buena and Avondale La Joya both went 4-0 in the Safeway Classic, which was round-robin play.
– Buena freshman guard Grant Ward, who is only 14, had 16 of his 19 points and made four of five 3-pointers in the second half to break open a close game and beat Tucson Pueblo 55-43. He scored all 10 of Buena’s fourth-quarter points. Devin Rottweiler added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
– La Joya beat Marana Mountain View, El Paso Irvin, Tucson Sahuaro and El Paso Ysleta in the Safeway Classic.
– Marana, which went 0-26 two years ago and 0-27 last season, went 3-3 in the Safeway Classic, including a 52-49 overtime win over Tucson Palo Verde as three players scored in double figures, led by 6-5 center Grady Gowin’s 13 points. He averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds during the week.
Reach Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert Listen to the Which Wich High School Football Preview Show every Friday from 6-7 p.m., on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 with Dan Manucci and Richard Obert.