Shelby Thumps Big Park To Win League Crown

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The Shelby School boys' basketball team played its way to an impressive 26-4 record this season, but was never able to win a tournament, settling most of the time for either second or third place.

Those feats are called "sister-kissers" in sports circles.

Shelby's frustrations finally came to an end at the Tri-Valley League tournament held last weekend in Sedona.

There, Shelby beat Big Park 48-25 in the final round to win the league crown.

Entering the gold-medal round, Shelby Coach Steve Rensch said he was not very confident because Big Park was on a roll and two of his starters -- Dallas Rensch and Chicago Houdek -- were ill.

"(Big Park) improved to the point where they were beating teams even worse than we were," Rensch said. "They were very confident they could handle us."

Big Park's confidence was buoyed by that fact that only a last-second desperation shot by Dallas Rensch allowed Shelby to salvage a win in a regular season meeting one week ago.

But Big Park's faith proved ill-founded when Shelby got off to a 31-8 halftime lead and never looked back.

In assessing the game, Coach Rensch said, "It was the best performance I've ever seen by a middle school team.

"Our kids were blocking shots all over the court, owning the boards against a bigger team and sometimes holding them without a shot for minutes at a time."

Despite his illness, Dallas Rensch finished as the leading scorer with 29 points, which included eight three-points.

But it was the play of Paul Silver -- the team's only seventh-grader-- that drew the coach's praise.

"Paul drove Big Park nuts with 12 rebounds and six steals," he said.

In earlier rounds of the tournament, Shelby beat Clarkdale/Mingus 67-11, West Sedona B 71-8 and West Sedona A 56-36.

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