Without guard Jaelen House, Shadow Mountain will take on Montverde Academy in the Dick’s High School Basketball Nationals on Thursday. Richard Obert/azcentral sports
Chandler Seton Catholic fell in the first round of the four-team Dick’s Girls High School Basketball Nationals in New York for the second year in a row.
But junior guard Sarah Barcello turned in a gutsy effort on Friday.
Despite playing with a stress fracture in a foot, Barcello scored 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting in a 55-48 loss to Miami (Fla.) Country Day at Christ the King High School.
Seton fell into a 15-2 hole after a quarter and got it close in the final quarter when the Sentinels went on an 18-9 run to close out the game.
Barcello, who made azcentral sports’ All-Arizona team for the second consecutive year, made 3 of 4 3-pointers.
LeeAnne Wirth, a 6-foot-3 post player who missed most of the season with an injury, added 12 points. Her twin sister Jenn, an All-Arizona selection, had 10 rebounds and six points.
After making just 1 of 10 shots in the first quarter, Seton (30-4) ended up shooting 42.6 percent for the game. Miami Country Day (30-1) was led by Channise Lewis’ 21 points.
On Thursday, Phoenix Shadow Mountain’s boys suffered their only loss of the year, falling to Montverde Academy of Florida 74-61, in the first round of the eight-team Dick’s Boys Nationals in New York.
Phoenix Shadow Mountain’s boys basketball team will be the only public school among the eight teams in Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals beginning Thursday at Christ the King High School in New York. The Matadors will gather at Shadow Mountain at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday before heading to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight to Newark, N.J. They will bus from there to Christ the King for a shootaround before heading to their hotel.
For the first game, they’ll be without their best defensive guard, sophomore Jaelen House, who averaged 22 points during their 27-0 state championship season.
House will travel with Shadow Mountain but he has to sit out Thursday’s 9 a.m. (Arizona time, ESPNU) against Montverde Academy (Fla.), because of an Arizona Interscholastic Association bylaw that calls for an automatic next-game suspension if ejected from a game.
House, the son of former Arizona State and NBA guard Eddie House, was ejected, along with Tucson Salpointe guard Isaac Cruz, for a fight with seven seconds left in the third quarter of Shadow Mountain’s 81-48 4A championship victory at Gila River Arena in Glendale on Feb. 25.
Seton Catholic girls, meanwhile, will open the four-team national tournament Friday against Miami (Fla.) Country Day at 10 a.m. (Arizona time, ESPNU) with a couple of key players nursing injuries, including 6-foot-3 senior post LeeAnne Wirth, who missed most of the team’s 4A championship season with an injury. Coach Karen Self said that Wirth’s back still isn’t 100 percent but she will play.
Despite the setbacks, Shadow Mountain and Seton are coming in confident that they’re going to win.
Seton spent last year’s appearance more in awe of being on the New York stage with elite teams, before losing in the first round to Jacksonville (Fla.) Ribault 49-41.
Coach Karen Self, who has won nine state titles and will be inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame on April 30, said she feels a 12-point win over national power Long Beach Poly without LeeAnne Wirth (a Gonzaga signee) will provide the confidence the girls need this time around.
“We were without LeeAnne and (point guard) Liz Holter spent most of the game in foul trouble,” Self said. “Last year, I was going through the whole gamut of emotions, from I hope we can win it all to I hope we don’t get blown out. That experience helps.”
She said she also has had the players living on the New York time zone the past week to get ready for their early game.
Shadow Mountain coach Mike Bibby gave his team about a week off after winning state, before going back at it.
“We keep them in the aspect of the way we play,” Bibby said. “Just work, keep them in shape, and try not to give them too much.”
House has been working out with the team.
The Matadors rely on guard play, setting a fast tempo predicated on a trapping, helping defense.
Montverde (24-4) will be an animal unlike any Shadow Mountain has faced since losing to Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei late in the 2015-16 season at Mater Dei, 79-72. Montverde, which had a 55-game home court winning streak snapped in January by Philadelphia’s Imhotep Charter in the final of Monverde’s invitational, has nine players who are at least 6 feet 7, including a pair of 6-10 players. Sean Mobley and Sandro Mamaukelashvili punish teams in the paint.
R.J. Barrett’s ability to hit 3s opens so many options for Montverde.
“We know that we’re undersized,” Bibby said. “We think our quickness and defense make up for that. We’re going to play the same way we’ve played all year and do what we do.
“We’ll put some different plays in. But our defense will be our offense.”
Shadow Mountain has won 33 consecutive games, since the Mater Dei loss. This season, the Matadors outscored their opponents by an average score of 85-53.
They’ll lean heavily on senior All-Arizona guard Marcus Shaver and sophomore guard Jovan Blacksher. Both are good defenders with speed, quickness and the ability to hit 3-pointers.
They’ll miss House, but House not being able to play has driven the rest of the players.
Senior 6-3 wing Darion Spottsville is looking forward to the opportunity.
“They doubt us,” he said. “But we know what we can do. We’ll go out there and do what we know we can do.”