Talk about interesting twists. When top-seed Corona del Sol and No. 2 Mountain View square off tonight at 7 at Glendale Arena for the 5A Division I boys basketball championship, their matchup will have a different meaning than their first tussle.
‘‘We played our preseason scrimmage against them,’’ Mountain View coach Gary Ernst said of the teams' matchup Nov. 16 at Corona. ‘‘It's kind of strange we're playing again the last game of the season.’’
Interesting also regarding the coaching matchup. Ernst played for Corona del Sol coach Sammy Duane Jr.'s father, and for a time was Sammy Jr.'s baby sitter.
The rest of the matchup is no fluke. Both teams have played brilliantly most of the season. Corona del Sol is 28-1 and Central Region champion. Mountain View is 28-3, East Valley Region champion and defending state champ with a 19-game winning streak. Corona's journey from a first-round state playoff exit last year to finalist this year has been a fun ride. Corona was just 12-17 last year. ‘‘We started slow last year but we were a pretty good team by the end of the season,’’ Duane Jr. said. ‘‘We played the toughest schedule in the state and we struggled early, but after Christmas we played well. I knew we were going to be pretty good with 7 of our top 8 back. I didn't think we'd be 28-1 good.’’
A solid starting lineup and quality depth has been Coronal's calling card. The Aztecs are led by center Sean Imadiyi, the Central Region player of the year, and point guard Demetrious Earl. Corona's depth has helped in postseason wins, particularly over Dobson and Mountain Pointe.
Imadiyi, Earl and sixth man Brett Miller have missed practices the last week due to illness and injury rehab. All returned to workouts Monday and are expected to play.
Mountain View has three key players back from last year's title team — junior center Harper Kamp, senior forward Stephen Rogers and sophomore guard Kendall Wallace. They combined for 54 points in the 2005 title game and average nearly 41 as a trio this season.
‘‘A couple good matchups are Harper and Sean, and Kendall and Demetrious,’’ Ernst said. ‘‘Corona is tough to match up with. They shoot the ball well, play hard and are well coached. Overall they have good size. I think the keys will be defending and rebounding.’’
The most anticipated matchup figures to be Imadiyi vs. Kamp. Imadiyi is a lean 6-foot-7; Kamp a stout 6-8.
‘‘Harper's got him by a lot of size, but Sean has him in speed,’’ Miller said. ‘‘Sean has to keep his composure and stay within his style of play.’’