Late free throws help PV upset top-ranked Shadow Mountain

Even with the holiday season upon us Paradise Valley wasn’t in the giving mood and didn’t make good hosts upsetting top-ranked Shadow Mountain 48-44 in Division II men’s basketball action Thursday night in north Phoenix.

The Matadors (16-2) jumped out to a slim early lead in the first half as both teams struggled with turnovers and missed shots. The Trojans (9-2) fought back in the second quarter in front of a near capacity crowd and the teams went to the half tied at 21.

PV was able to regain the lead midway through the third quarter behind two-sport star and Boise State quarterback commit Ryan Finley and fellow senior Paul Watson who will we attending Fresno State next year to continue his basketball career.

Finley, a wing who played point guard on PV’s varsity team as a sophomore, forced two key Matador turnovers as the late-game pressure seemed to rattle Shadow Mountain freshman point guard Michael Bibby at times.

In the end, the Trojans won the game at the free throw line and made amends for their poor effort at the charity stripe in a loss at Shadow Mountain just over two weeks ago. Watson, who finished with a game-high 15 points, converted a perfect 6-6 in the final stretch to help hold off Shadow.

“The crowd was intense,” Watson said after the big win. “You gotta love games like that. Both sides…everybody’s hyped about it. It just makes you want to go out there, play harder, and put on a show for the crowd.”

Finley and forward Anthony Walker each scored 10 in the victory, while sharpshooter Keegan Hansen paced SMHS with 14.

“Our team battled,” PV head coach Mark MacGowan explained. “I thought our kids persevered in the fourth quarter. We didn’t put our heads down. We found ways to make buckets and plays.”