Since the day he entered high school, Calaen Robinson spent countless hours dreaming of a basketball state championship.
He never considered how to act after it was accomplished.
“Man, this doesn‘t feel real,” Corona del Sol’s senior shooting guard said. “This doesn’t feel real at all.”
Pinch yourself, Calaen.
The top-seeded Aztecs put the finishing touches on a dominant season by cruising past No. 6 Cesar Chavez, 66-53, for the Division I title on Saturday at Jobing.com Arena.
Casey Benson had 22 points and Avery Moss added 18 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks as Corona del Sol built up a 34-20 halftime advantage and never let it dip below double digits after intermission. The Aztecs (32-1) finished the year with 30 consecutive victories. Their only loss came on Nov. 23 to Mesquite.
It is the school’s first state championship since 1994, when Sam Duane, Sr., was on the bench. His son, Sam Duane, Jr., coached the Aztecs in this one. The Aztecs last made the title game in 2006.
Duane, Jr., choked up when talking about his father after the game.
“He had a huge impact on me,” he said.
Corona del Sol struggled offensively in the semifinals, pulling out a 49-46 victory over Desert Vista, but was off to the races in this one. Robinson scored seven first-quarter points on his way to 14 for the game, and Benson hit a pair of big 3-pointers early to give the Aztecs a cushion. Two free throws by Robinson gave Corona del Sol an 8-7 lead with 5:16 left in the first quarter that was never relinquished.
“We were ready today,” forward Andrus Peat said.
Corona del Sol was one of the better teams in the state last season, but lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Mountain View.
The Aztecs were seen as one of the title favorites from the get-go, and affirmed themselves as the team to beat with a solid showing at the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge at Mountain View over winter break.
Corona del Sol went undefeated in power points and won its sectional tournament before adding the finishing touch in this one.
“We wanted to get that taste (from last season) out of our mouths,” Benson said. “We have a lot of seniors going on to college next season, going on to a new stage, so we wanted to come out and make the best of our final season together.”
Robinson will play basketball for Arizona State next season while Peat (Stanford) and Moss (Nebraska) will play Division I football.
While all three have bright futures, they were intent on ending their high school athletic careers on a high note.
“I knew this was our turn,” Robinson said.