Mesquite boys basketball coach Tom Saltzstein admits that sometimes, when senior Isaiah Strong fires up a particularly deep 3-pointer, he can't help but cringe.
But it's always seemed to work, and Friday night was no exception.
Strong was 8-for-15 from downtown on his way to a game-high 28 points to lead the Wildcats (17-3, 5-2) to a 75-61 victory over fifth-ranked Corona del Sol in a 5A-I Central Region contest at Mesquite.
No matter how far he is behind the 3-point line or how close a defender guards him, Strong never hesitates to pull the trigger.
"There's times on the bench where I'm looking at my assistant, Randy (Hill), and saying, 'Wow, look where he jacked that one up from," Saltzstein said. "But half the time he's going to make it. What do we do? Do we tell him not to shoot?"
Strong hit two 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the contest and had five by halftime.
He put an exclamation point on the victory with his final 3-pointer with 3:55 remaining, giving the Wildcats a 65-47 lead.
"It felt like every time I shot, I would make it," Strong said.
The only time Mesquite trailed was 2-0, although Corona kept within striking distance most of the game.
The Wildcats led 33-21 late in the first half before the Aztecs used an 8-3 run to cut it to a seven-point deficit at the half.
The margin dipped to as low as five points in the third quarter, but Mesquite's offense stayed potent and eventually the Wildcats pulled away.
Josh Amaya had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Mesquite, and Christian Bower added 14 points and nine assists.
David Whitmore led Corona (14-5, 4-3) with 20 points. The Aztecs had won six straight games.
The victory helps keep Mesquite within one game of region leader Mountain View, which beat Dobson on Friday, while Corona falls two games back.
Strong said the players aren't focusing too much on the region standings.
"We're just trying to come out and play hard as a team," Strong said.