Marcus Shaver’s return to Phoenix St. Mary’s went as expected.
The Creature Bleachers, St. Mary’s student section, chanted “Marcus Traitor” after he was introduced to the large crowd.
Shaver received a hard foul from Jorden Blake that prompted chants of “Jorden” under the basket in the bleachers, where the St. Mary’s students sit.
Coach Mike Bibby said he felt it was “more than a hard foul.”
But, in the end, Shaver got the final word, leading Shadow Mountain past his former school 85-60 Tuesday night in a battle between No. 1 and 2 that showed the incredible separation after Shadow Mountain in the 4A Conference.
The senior guard finished with 22 points in his first game at St. Mary’s since he left the school following his sophomore season to try the prep academy route in Dallas.
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When Shaver returned to the Valley and enrolled at Shadow Mountain, he had to sit out the first nine games because of the new Arizona Interscholastic Association transfer bylaw.
“I just took it like another game,” said Shaver, who has signed with UC Santa Barbara. “They tried to take me out.
“I just had to play through it, stay mentally strong.”
Bibby said the players kept their composure better than he did with defenders flying at Shaver.
St. Mary’s coach Ty Amundsen needed a moment after the game to compose himself.
“It’s a 30-point game and they still have their starters in,” Amundsen said.
Bibby said his team is only seven-deep, and has to use junior-varsity players to fill out the bench. His JV team got blown out by St. Mary’s JV before his game.
“They’re not at our practice, they don’t know how we run things,” Bibby said. “We only know to go one way, and that’s hard. If they don’t, they’re not playing.”
Shadow Mountain had 76 points through three quarters, before easing up offensively.
St. Mary’s senior guard Abel Navarette said nobody was instructed to go hard after Shaver.
“I think the emotions of the game took over,” Navarette said. “We were playing with Marcus when we were freshmen. Nobody was going, ‘We’ve got to go out and hit him.’ It was just the flow of the game, emotions were flying.”
Amundsen complimented Shadow Mountain’s speed, press, defense, offense, just about everything, as Shaver and fellow guards, Jaelen House and Jovan Blacksher, ran a clinic in the first four minutes, opening up a 15-4 lead.
“He’s a good player,” Amundsen said of Shaver. “Nobody has ever discounted the fact that he’s a good player. He’s got tremendous quickness. He can shoot the ball. He’s a handful to guard. You almost have to send two or three guys to guard him. Put one guy guarding him, you let him go for 30. It’s hard. We have to figure out ways the next time we play them to try to stop him. It’s not to be easy. They’re really good.”
Sophomore House had 24 points, despite missing most of the third quarter with four fouls. St. Mary’s 6-foot-10 junior K.J. Hymes finished with 14 points.
Shadow Mountain, ranked No.1 in azcentral sports’ Super 10 (all conferences) since preseason, built a 28-12 lead after eight minutes and 58-28 at halftime, as it ran its record to 19-0 with no team in 4A putting up much of a challenge so far.
St. Mary’s (12-9) figured to be best-equipped because of its tough schedule, playing teams such as Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei and New York’s Christ the King.
This wasn’t the biggest team St. Mary’s has seen. But it was the fastest.
“They get after it,” Navarette said. “It’s different than Mater Dei. They’re a bigger team. But they run. They run a lot.”