Once a budding hoops dynasty, Matadors suffer 70-pt. loss

The Shadow Mountain High School  boys’ basketball team lost its last game…by 70 points.

Might as well get that out there, right up front.

While lopsided scores are not unusual in high school basketball, this one jumped off the page, just because it was Shadow Mountain, a team that not long ago ruled 4A basketball.

St. Mary’s High School won that contest last Thursday night, 105-35, and further dampened the spirits of a program trying to find its way back to the stardom it enjoyed for the better part of a decade.

It’s been just three years since Shadow Mountain won its fourth consecutive 4A state championship and the fifth in six years.

Mike Bibby was the head coach for the four straight titles, Jerry Conner for the fifth.  But the east Phoenix school has had four head coaches over the past 10 years and, despite the continual disruptions, not one of those seasons ended in a losing record.  In fact, none of those teams won fewer than 23 games a season.

Bibby’s work in building a hoops dynasty was cut short after the 20018-19 season when he became the subject of a sexual abuse allegation made by a Shadow Mountain teacher.  He resigned and a six-week investigation by the Phoenix police failed to find probable cause to bring charges, so the case was closed.

Curtis Millage took the reins for the 2019-20 season and it appeared there wasn’t going to be much fall-off in the wake of Bibby’s departure.  The team finished with a respectable 15-9 record.  However, the next year the program fell through the floor, winning just a single game on the shortened 14-game schedule.  The talent that propelled Bibby’s teams was no longer in the line-up.

Right now the Matadors are 3-9 on the season and are dealing with a 10-game losing streak.  They haven’t won a game since Dec. 29, and the slide has accelerated toward the end of the schedule. They’ve lost the last six games by an average of 38 points a game.

With just three games remaining on the 2021-22 schedule, a losing season is assured.  That hasn’t happened since the 2010-11 season when the Matadors went 1-20.

And even then, their worst loss was an 81-39 thumping by Sunnyslope High School.  The 70-point loss last week to St. Mary’s is believed to be the largest margin in a loss in program history.

Now, a decade later, this is a proud program with a winning tradition that is faced with a challenging climb back to respectability.