There’s no way to tell whether the crowds that showed up at the Chaparral High School gym for the weekend’s Hoophall West Showcase were there to cheer on a couple of the state’s best boys’ basketball teams – or to get a look at one of the nation’s legendary high school programs. Likely, a little of both.
St. Anthony made the cross-country 2,100-mile trip to Arizona to participate in this year’s event, bringing with it a brand of disciplined basketball that has made the tiny (approx. 250 students) Catholic school in Jersey City, NJ, a dominant force at the national level and turned its head coach, Bob Hurley, into a legend in the game.
Hurley, father of Arizona State‘s new head coach, Bobby Hurley, has been running the tradition-steeped program for the last 39 years and, during that time set a national record with 27 state titles.
The St. Anthony program, which has been chronicled in both a book and a documentary movie, was the launching pad for Bobby, who graduated to become a star player at national power Duke and then went on to a successful NBA career. He is one of at least five St. Anthony grads that went on to become first-round draft picks at the pro level.
Bobby was busy Saturday, beating Houston Baptist down the road at Wells Fargo Arena, and his father did the same with his Hoophall opponents, beating Corona del Sol High School and Shadow Mountain High in the Friday and Saturday marquee games.
Corona, which had won 70 straight games against in-state competition before losing the season opener, has won the last four Division I state titles and been nationally-ranked much of that time. The Aztecs beat nationally-ranked Bishop Gorman High from Las Vegas in a tournament the week before. St. Anthony came into the weekend ranked No. 13 by USA Today.
Shadow Mountain is coached by retired 14-year NBA veteran, Mike Bibby, and has been ranked by MaxPreps among the top 10 teams in the state the last three seasons.
In Friday night’s game between Corona and St. Anthony, junior guard Alex Barcello connected on five of his eight shots from behind the arc and finished with 31 points as his Aztecs fell to the visitors from the East, 68-58.
St. Anthony made the trip without a full roster, but had no trouble getting production out of those that were here; five different players scored in double digits.
Corona hung with St. Anthony through the first quarter, which ended at 14-14, but the Friars went on a 22-9 scoring spree in the second period to take a 13-point lead into the half. The Aztecs closed to within eight during the fourth quarter, but that was as close as they got to pulling off the upset.
The Aztecs had two other players in double digits, Tyrell Henderson with 12 points and Saben Lee with 10.
In the Saturday game, Shadow Mountain played to a 23-23 tied at the half and was able to stay with the Friars through three quarters; they were still just six points behind early in the fourth. But a cold shooting spell as the final period opened let St. Anthony extend its lead beyond reach and cruise the rest of the way to a 60-48 win.
St. Anthony’s offense rolled at a 53 percent shooting clip, while its defense held the Matadors to 38 per cent from the field. Shadow Mountain had no answer for Friar guard Jagan Mosely, who ran up 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
J.J. Rhymes led Shadow Mountain with 20 points and Mike Bibby, the coach’s son, had five points and eight rebounds.