If the Shelby School boys' basketball team continues to build on its 8-0 record, the squad could play the role of an unfriendly host when the 1998 Copper State Jam tournament is played Jan. 8-10 in the Tonto Apache gymnasium.
Shelby, with coach Steve Rensch, is sponsoring the tournament that will feature 16 of the best middle school basketball teams in Arizona.
Based on recent results, Shelby -- a small private school in Tonto Village -- could send some of the big-city teams home packing.
In Shelby's most recent three games, the team slipped past Chandler Bogle Junior High 45-41, bested Phoenix Country Day 44-21 and pounded the Arizona Heat 63-38.
Despite the team's unbeaten record and long list of lopsided wins, Rensch says "the boys are in a shooting slump, but they are playing the rest of the game well enough that no one yet has seriously challenged them."
In the win over Chandler Bogle, Shelby was facing the best team its played this year, Rensch said. "They were big underneath and very fast at guard."
Chicago Houdek led Shelby offensively with 15 points. Dallas Rensch, the coach's son, finished with 15.
Country Day proved to be no match for Shelby as the locals jumped out to an early 16-1 lead and cruised to the win. Houdek led all scorers with 16 points. Dallas Rensch had a good all-around game with 12 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Paul Silver contributed seven rounds.
Against the Arizona Heat, a squad of Phoenix-area home-schooled students, coach Rensch said, Shelby faced a 6-foot, 4-inch center who couldn't be stopped. Although the tall and talented player finished with 25 points, he was no match for Shelby's well-rounded attack.
Houdek tallied 17 points, Rensch 16 and Alex Cassuto 13.
The Shelby girls team fell to 3-1 on the season after dropping a 21-18 overtime decision to the Heat.
With only one minute remaining, Rensch said, Shelby was up 17-15 when the game was interrupted to stop a leak in the gym roof. After a 30-minute delay, the teams returned to the floor.
"But our girls could never find themselves again," Rensch said. "The Heat tied the game with a few seconds to go and won in overtime."
Bullet Mulcahey contributed seven points, 13 rebounds and seven steals to the Shelby cause.
The Shelby boys return to action today, Tuesday, in Gilbert. Game time is 3:15 p.m. Tomorrow, Wednesday, in the Tonto Apache gym, the girls host Clarkdale Mingus at 2:30 p.m. The boys play Mingus at 3:30 p.m.
For more information on the inaugural Copper State Jam Tournament, call Rensch at 478-0357 during the day or 478-4216 at night.