On Tuesday, February 19th I traveled to Wells Fargo Arena (ASU) and watched the 4th and final game of the night for the Elite-8 playoffs for the Division-I state tournament, which featured #1 seed Corona del Sol Aztecs versus the #8 seed Millennium (Mill) Tigers.
The game started and Millennium's 6-foot-4 senior wing Luke Jackson made a short turnaround for a 2-0 lead for Mill. Then 6-foot-10 junior post Elston Jones hit a mid-range shot, followed by a lay-up inside by 6-foot-4 senior guard Ramon Franklin for a 6-0 lead for Mill.
Corona's 6-foot-1 junior guard Jarrett Givens gets his team on the board after making two free-throws, followed by a Jones easy lay-in for an 8 to 2 lead for Mill, after a nice feed from Luke Jackson with 1 minute left.
Corona 6-foot-3 junior PG Casey Benson then gets to the line and converts both, followed by a lay-up off the break for Givens for an 8 to 6 lead for Mill.
Then a tip-in by 6-foot-1 senior guard Jordan Martin, along with two more free-throws by Benson for a 10-8 lead for Mill after one quarter of play.
The second quarter starts and 6-foot-2 senior wing Bryan Siekfer hits a 3-ball from a great feed from Benson for an 11-10 lead for Corona. Jackson and 6-foot-4 sophomore Cassius Peat exchange baskets for a 13-12 lead for Corona.
Then big-man Elston Jones scores a lay-up “and-1,” for an 18-13 lead, after a Martin drained a 3-point shot for a quick 5-point swing.
Benson then scored on a floater and a lay-up, followed by two made free-throws by Franklin for a low scoring first half of play, in favor of Millennium - 20 to 17 .
Benson had 8 points for Corona and Elston Jones had 7 points for Millennium.
Corona couldn’t have played a worse half of play, and yet they were only down 3 points. The third period began and the play was extremely even with a score of 31 to 30 in Millennium’s favor. Corona outscored them 13-10, led by strong play from 6-foot-4 senior forward Adam Gleave and 6-foot-3 senior wing Braden Tennyson.
After three free-throws were made by Corona, Martin and Peat exchanged baskets for a 35 to 33 lead for Corona.
Siefker and Givens then scored on back-to-back shots, followed by a Martin 3-ball for a 39 to 36 game.
Then a beautiful turn-around, left handed face-up shot by Jones for a 39 to 38 Corona lead with 2 minutes left to play in the game. Then Benson drives around his defender, but only to meet Jones at the basket and Jones blocks Benson with huge force. On the next play, Benson doesn’t get down on himself and scores a right hand lay-up for a 41 to 38 lead.
Franklin got fouled and converted both, followed by a Gleave made free-throw for a 42 to 40 lead for Corona with :40 seconds left.
Adam Gleave then made an incredible block to save a lay-up, then was fouled and made both for a 44 to 40 lead with :16 seconds left.
Martin calmly comes down the court and drains an extremely deep 3-point shot for a 44 to 43 lead with :10 seconds left.
Benson got fouled and made both to go up three points.
Millennium's Martin again attempted a 3-ball, but slipped and traveled to give the ball back to Corona.
Benson made 1 of 2 free throws to go up by four points, before Martin came down again and drained a meaningless three-pointer at the buzzer for a 47 to 46 win for the #1 seed Aztecs.
Jordan Martin led his team in the loss with 16 points - showing that he is a sleeper prospect in the class. Elston Jones had 11 points and 3 blocks in the loss.
Casey Benson had 17 points and 3 assists in the close win. Peat and Gleave scored 6 each.
Corona will meet Desert Mountain on Thursday, as some feel the winner of that game, will win it all.