Jaron Hopkins remembers the end of his junior season all too well.
Dobson's star guard played for Basha last year, and the Bears took a 22-4 record into the regular season finale before losing three straight games to end the season.
Dobson didn’t have as much regular season success this year as that Basha team did, but Hopkins is hoping to turn his fortunes around in the playoffs.
The Colorado commit helped set that better outcome in motion with 33 points, seven rebounds and seven steals as the Mustangs defeated Red Mountain, 66-59, in the opening round of the Division I, Section II tournament on Wednesday night at Mesquite.
“It’s (crossed my mind) a lot,” Hopkins said. “As a senior I don’t want that to happen again. I’m living with a little regret, and hopefully we go further this year.”
The Mustangs played without second-leading scorer Ryan Richardson, who was out with a bruised knee. However, Dobson jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and never trailed.
Red Mountain was within six points on a lay-up by Travis Meeker with 1:40 remaining, but Hopkins hit eight free throws in a row down the stretch and Kodi Justice added a pair to keep the Mountain Lions at bay.
Dobson moves on to play No. 1 Corona del Sol in the section semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Mesquite.
For all their talent — Dobson has three players with Division I offers — the Mustangs have struggled this year finding high-percentage shots, but Hopkins continually attacked the lane, leading to good looks.
“He’s a strong kid,” Dobson coach Rick McConnell said. “He looked really good tonight. He dominated the game.”
Dobson (18-10) has now won three straight games and avenged a pair of regular season losses to Red Mountain. Richardson will likely be back on Friday.
Meeker led the Mountain Lions (17-10) with 17 points and Andy Sessions added 12. Kodi Justice had 11 points, five assists and three blocks for Dobson.
Corona del Sol 67, Highland 57: In the other opening round sectional at Mesquite, Casey Benson had 27 points, seven rebounds and three steals as the Aztecs held off the Hawks. Corona del Sol took a 3-2 lead early on and never relinquished it, but Highland didn’t go away quietly. The Aztecs built up a 17-point first half lead before the Hawks pulled to within five points on a Jake Toolson 3-pointer with 4:08 remaining. Toolson finished with 32 points and six rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. Benson missed a game last week against Dobson with a sprained ankle, but showed no ill effects in this one, hitting 10-of-18 shots from the field and 2-of-4 3-pointers. “Casey’s fine,” coach Sam Duane said. “He could have played at Dobson, but that wasn’t the big picture. The big picture is getting him 100 percent, and now he is.” Cassius Peat added 17 points for Corona del Sol.