From time to time, you may be lucky to witness a triple double in a boy's high school basketball game. Well, one occurred Wednesday night at Shadow Mountain High School. Not your usual though, but the modest crowd did get to witness two teams battle for two hours and see two transformations.
The 3-3 Saguaro Sabercats were visiting the 2-1 Shadow Mountain Matadors. From the opening tip-off, most would have given the Sabercats the advantage in this game. Shadow Mt. was without senior starter Ladi McKinde and a less than 100% Tyrone Jacobs. Well, someone must have forgotten to tell the Matadors.
The first five minutes of the game were pretty even when the floodgates opened for Saguaro. For the next eleven minutes the Sabercats could get nothing going. The shots weren't falling, the passes were either stolen or soaring out of bounds, and their defense was about as crisp as a Phoenix summer breeze.
On the other hand, the Matadors of Shadow Mt. were operating like a Scottsdale plastic surgeon, quick and flawless. The Matadors jumped to a 21-14 lead to end the first with Drew Pinnell scoring 8 of his 12. The second period was much like the first but Kenny Whitis and Tyrone Jacobs had the hot hands. Whitis had 8, all from the charity stripe (8 for 8), and Jacobs used his power and nice inside touch to drain all 8 of his points for the game.
Justin Ashbaugh seemed to be the only Sabercat with his head in the game for the first half, scoring 17 of the Sabercats 33 points.
The score at the half was 48-33 in favor of the Matadors.
With most of the crowd trying to decide whether to stay through the half or leave to avoid witnessing a massacre, the plot was about to thicken. Someone must have entered the Matador locker room, stole their mo-jo, and slipped it into the Sabercat's water bottles. The transformation was about to begin.
The Sabercats came out like a team possessed and the Matadors got about as much right as a 360 degree left turn. What happened in that Matadors' locker room? The team only managed to score 27 second half points. The only question was whether the first half cushion would be enough to hold on to the victory. The Matadors did have a couple bright moments with Whitis keeping his hot hand and intensity. He finished with 23. (10 for 10 from the stripe). The Matadors also had one of the best student cheering sections I had ever witnessed. A group calling themselves " The Hecklers". Wow!! Talk about enthusiasm and school spirit. Other schools should take notice for this 6th man was surely a factor. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to stop the bleeding. Or should I say hemorrhaging!
Saguaro looked amazing. To say this team was "on fire" would be an under statement. They forced turnover after turnover, blocked shot after shot, and it would not be surprising if they shot 80% from the field. 50 second half points. 21 in the third and 29 clutch points in the fourth. Led by a performance from senior guard Danny O'Boyle. A performance so spectacular, it's going to take this spectator many a month to forget. 13 points in the third and 18 points, yes 18, in the fourth. 31 of his 37 points were drained in the second half. It was awesome!
C.J. Venezia also caught fire, scoring 10 of his 16 in the latter half. One shot, a jaw dropper from nearly half court at the buzzer to end the third.
Ashbaugh continued to shine as well, displaying how well rounded of a ball player he really is. It was hard to count how many steals, blocks, and rebounds this kid had. He put on a clinic on how to play defense and how to hustle. All this while playing every minute of the game. All ball for 32 minutes! He finished with 19.
The game was won by Saguaro 83-75 on what will go down as one of the best games and comebacks of the 2003/2004 season. Pretty gutsy to say after week one. I hope to get an invite for the next game of it's kind. I'll Fed-X my RSVP!!
....and a special shout out to the parents of starting sophomore guard James Watson, who I had the pleasure to be seated next to. Their "never say die" enthusiasm and pride, accompanied by the other Saguaro parents and fans, was sure an inspiration to the Sabercats ball club. It's sure is great to see such support from parents and fans on both sides of the ball! What a game!