GLENDALE — The Salpointe Catholic boys basketball team found out why Phoenix Shadow Mountain was undefeated this year.
The Matadors defeated Salpointe 81-48 on Saturday in a wire-to-wire victory to win the Class 4A state championship at Gila River Arena.
The Matadors won their second straight state championship, with last year’s victory coming in the previous AIA setup which utilized divisions.
Salpointe (23-10) started out nearly neck-in-neck with Shadow Mountain (27-0) for the majority of the first quarter, as the Lancers slowed play down and looked to execute in the half court.
The game changed once Salpointe turnovers led to several fast-break points near the end of the first quarter. In all, Salpointe ended the game with 22 turnovers and Shadow Mountain scored 23 points off those mistakes.
“There were a lot of physical mistakes,” Salpointe head coach Brian Holstrom said. “Physical mistakes turned into quick points and quick points turned into big runs for (Shadow Mountain).”
Salpointe senior guard Cameron Miller paced the Lancers, with seven of his team-high 19 points coming in the opening quarter.
Play began to get physical at the end of the first quarter and Shadow Mountain head coach and former Arizona Wildcat Mike Bibby was given a technical after arguing foul calls.
Referees called play considerably tight in the first half, with 25 personal fouls being called over the opening 16 minutes.
Both teams were in the bonus before the end of the first quarter.
Shadow Mountain started the second quarter by increasing on ball defensive pressure and forced several more Salpointe turnovers, en route to an 18-4 run over the first three minutes of the second quarter.
The Matadors used that run to firmly secure control of the game and take a 44-26 lead into halftime.
Sophomore guard Jaelen House and senior guard Marcus Shaver spearheaded that run with their defensive pressure and shooting from deep. Shaver ended with six three-pointers and a game-high 29 points, while House finished with 19 points in 17 minutes before being ejected.
From the onset, players from both teams were noticeably jawing with each other, and the back-and-forth reached a tipping point late in the third quarter.
With time running down in the quarter, Salpointe senior guard Isaac Cruz drove to the basket and, after seemingly blocking Cruz’s shot, House was called for a foul.
Cruz took offense to what House had to say after the foul and players from both teams were involved in a brief scrum with seven seconds left in the third quarter.
Both Cruz and House were ejected as a result.
From that point on both coaches emptied their bench as, due to Shadow Mountain’s big lead, the clock ran for the majority of the fourth quarter.
“We’ll get over this soon,” Holstrom said. “Back to the big picture where we had a heck of a season and we got to a place few teams get to go to. I’m just so happy for the seniors that they got to have this ride … I’ve got no regrets.”