The Corona del Sol boys basketball team has only lost three times to in-state opponents this season.
When the section tournament schedule lined up two of those opponents in a row, the Aztecs surely weren’t going to let that rallying cry go to waste.
Top-ranked Corona avenged a pair of late-season losses to Dobson and Hamilton in convincing fashion this weekend to win the Division I, Section II tournament. The Aztecs defeated the Huskies, 62-52, in the championship game on Saturday night at Mesquite behind Casey Benson’s 28 points.
“We called this ‘Revenge Week,’” Corona del Sol coach Sam Duane said. “Once we got Highland (in the first round), we wanted Dobson, and then it was like, ‘OK, one more to go.’ It was a little more motivation.”
Hamilton slowed the game to a crawl on Jan. 25 and pulled off the 40-37 upset. This game started off the same way as the Huskies held a 19-17 lead with five minutes remaining in the second quarter, but Corona del Sol pushed the tempo and connected on some easy buckets to take a five-point lead into halftime.
Corona consistently led by double digits in the third and fourth quarter, which forced Hamilton to speed up and play into the Aztecs’ hands.
Corona del Sol should be the top overall seed for the Division I state tournament, which begins on Thursday. The Aztecs won the title last season.
“This is the first step,” Benson said. “Obviously we don’t want to just win this. Our goal is to be the state champion.”
Benson shot 11-of-20 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Adam Gleave added 12 points, including seven in the third quarter as Corona del Sol pulled away.
Sophomore forward James Sosinski had 11 points through two and a half quarters for Hamilton but injured his ankle in the third and didn’t play the rest of the way. Luke McCook had 13 points to lead Hamilton, which entered the game No. 6 overall in the power rankings and hopes to stay in the top-8 to receive a first-round playoff bye.