Shadow Mountain HS gets revenge & hoops win at MLK

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                </div>  This year’s MLK Classic high school basketball tournament here in the Valley didn’t look anything like those of recent years.  In fact, it wasn’t even a tournament this year […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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This year’s MLK Classic high school basketball tournament here in the Valley didn’t look anything like those of recent years.  In fact, it wasn’t even a tournament this year since just two teams were invited.

But Shadow Mountain High‘s 67-62 victory over Corona del Sol High School gave those fans who showed up for the 13th annual tournament commemorating Martin Luther King a good look at a couple of the better teams in the state, as well as some of the top college prospects on both teams.

Corona’s Alex Barcello, who was named the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year last year as a sophomore, poured in 28 points, while Shadow Mountain’s Mike Bibby and JJ Rhymes each contributed 19 points to the win.

The MLK Classic began in 2003 with just girls’ teams playing at Arizona State‘s Wells Fargo Arena and expanded shortly after that to include boys’ teams.  And in recent years, games were also added in Tucson.

Last year there were five boys’ and girls’ games at Wells Fargo spread throughout the day.  The game considered to be the best contest of the day was saved for the end of the event and labeled the ‘marquee’ game.

Corona would have been included in the 2015 marquee game since the Aztecs were ranked No. 22 in the nation and had won the previous three state championships.  But the Tempe school opted instead to travel to Massachusetts and participate in the Hoophall Classic tournament held in Springfield.

Instead, Perry High School and Dobson High were given the prime-time slot and gave fans almost 200 points of offense to enjoy.  Sophomore sensation Markus Howard led Perry to a 94-86 victory with a 43-point performance.

This year’s Phoenix-area ‘tournament’ had a tough time getting off the ground.  Not only was the field whittled to a single game, but the event didn’t have a place to play until a week prior to tip-off.  ASU’s court wasn’t available and Grand Canyon University, which hosted the event in 2014, couldn’t help either.

It appeared that Scottsdale Community College was going to step in and provide a gym, but that fell through at the last minute and the game was moved to Shadow Mountain’s gym – which made this essentially a home contest for the Matadors.

Monday’s game was a made-for-prime-time event. Both teams were among the best across the two largest divisions, with Shadow Mountain the No. 1 team in Division II and Corona the fifth-ranked team in Division I.

And this was a re-match, to boot, which gave it the added element of revenge.  The same two teams met in the 2014 marquee game, when each was the top-ranked team in their respective divisions.  Corona, which was the two-time defending state champion, won that one, 79-52.

But the Matadors turned the tables this time.  Corona – which is playing without the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018, Marvin Bagley III, after the sophomore transferred out after last season – kept it a close game most of the way and went into the final quarter just three points behind.

But a 12-0 run in the fourth enabled the Matadors, who were playing without their injured 6’8″ center Isaiah Jones, to extend the lead just far enough to hold off Corona and seal the five-point win.

Organizers say next year’s MLK Classic should be back to its usual format – and will hopefully be able to find a home well ahead of the last week before tip-off.