After watching his junior high-age basketball team jump out to a 5-0 record, Shelby School coach Steve Rensch no longer questions his team's ability.
"This is the best team for the age level I've coached," he said. "The only people who can beat them are themselves. I guess it's my job to keep that from happening."
Rensch's optimism was fueled by a trio of wins which began Nov. 16 at Scottsdale Christian. There, Shelby survived an early Scottsdale threat to win 54-40.
The following day, the vagabond Shelby team visited Sedona where it dominated West Sedona 66-16.
Two days later in a home game played in the Tonto Apache gym, Shelby soundly thumped Prescott Mile High School 55-19.
In the three-year history of the basketball team at Shelby, the game was the first indoor home contest the school has played.
On the Shelby campus in Tonto Village, there is no gymnasium leaving the team to play all its games on the road.
Against Prescott, Shelby struggled early to an 8-8 tie at the end of the first quarter.
But relying on a pressure defense, Rensch said, Shelby pulled away during the final three quarters.
Dallas Rensch took game scoring honors with 19 points. Nicky Cassuto finished with 11.
The coach cited the all-around play of Mark Moore who corralled nine rebounds and had five steals despite being ill.
The win over West Sedona was particularly gratifying for Shelby since the school was the only one to dominate the local squad last year.
"We gained a measure of revenge," Rensch said.
Again, Dallas Rensch led all scores with 21 points, Cassuto had 12 and Chicago Houdek 10.
Against Scottsdale Christian, coach Rensch said, Shelby "faced a big strong team that gave our team the only tough game of the season to date."
With three minutes remaining, Scottsdale led 29-28.
But a late surge, led by Cassuto (16 points) and Dallas Rensch (14) fueled Shelby to the come from behind win.
In girls junior high play, the Shelby squad eked out a 26-24 win over Sedona despite jumping out to an 18-8 lead in the first half.
With one minute remaining Sedona led 24-22.
"But our girls got out of their panic just long enough to score twice, a basket by Ana Brooks and one by Bullet Mulcahey and we won (by two)," coach Rensch said.