"They are what we thought they were," - famous words by former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green. Also words used to describe this year's version of the 2-time defending Division-I state champion Corona Del Sol Aztecs, as they begin the 2013-2014 high school basketball season. After winning two consecutive games in blowout fashion at this year's exciting Hoop Hall Tournament held on their campus this week, this year's version of the Aztecs is better than ever and looks to be the clear favorite, once again, to win it all this season.
Led by the play of a number of talented players on the Aztecs' roster and veteran and long-time successful head coach Sam Duane Jr., Corona has retooled this season in a big way for another championship season. Again, the state's premier point guard prospect, 6-foot-3 senior guard Casey Benson (University of Oregon signee), will lead the Aztecs' attack this season. Joining Benson this season are two more of the state's elite college prospects, as 6-foot-9 senior post Connor MacDougall (Arizona State signee) and 6-foot-6 junior forward Dane Kuiper (University of New Mexico commit) will round out a trio of top-rated prospects for this talented group.
MacDougall was recently cleared by the AIA to play this season, in what was a long, grueling process for he and his family.
"It feels so good to be out here," said MacDougall after his team's big win over Westview High School on Wednesday evening. "It just feel good to be playing and not watching these guys anymore. It was hard going to practice every day and watching - not knowing if I needed to learn the plays or not, since I didn't know if I would be able to play."
MacDougall and his Aztec teammates are playing inspired basketball early this season - looking like a group that is thankful to be together. It showed Wednesday evening, as the Aztecs built a quick 15-point advantage in the game's first quarter and never looked back in the route. Corona would go on to win the game in fine fashion, 66-45.
Westview High School was led by the play of talented 6-foot-9 senior post Andre Adams. Adams would finish the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds on 8-for-9 shooting from the field. Adams would also suffer a concussion late in the game.
Corona (2-0) will take on a talented Chaparral HS team on Friday evening (6PM) in the next round of the Hoop Hall Tournament - a tournament that will pick up again later in December on the campus of Grand Canyon University, and will feature many top-rated high school programs from around the country.