Everyone had anticipated to an eventual meeting between the state's top two teams in this year's Division-I state championship game - #1 seed Corona Del Sol and #2 seed Pinnacle HS.
While #1 seed Corona Del Sol (32-1) would get there as anticipated, no one had expected #6 seed Cesar Chavez to get there. Just like in years past, Chavez had utilized an athletic, fast-breaking style of play to find their way into this year's championship game.
Chavez (27-6) had defeated #2 seed Pinnacle HS 62-58 in overtime in this year's Division-I semi-finals at Jobing.com Arena on Thursday evening.
Corona would jump out to an early 11-7 first quarter lead with 4 minutes remainning in the period, after a long three-pointer in the secondary break from 6-foot-3 senior combo-guard Calaen Robinson (Arizona State signee). Robinson would score 7 of his team's first 11 points.
Corona would take a 16-11 lead into the second period, after a nice assist from Robinson to 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Casey Benson for a three-pointer just before the buzzer.
With 7:21 left to play in the first half, Chavez talented 6-foot-5 sophomore post Pablo Rivas would earn his second foul of the game - heading to the bench. 6-foot-7 senior post LJ Harmon would enter the game for Chavez.
Corona, sporting the state's biggest frontcourt - led by 6-foot-7. 300-pound senior post Andrus Peat (Stanford University football commit) and 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior forward Avery Moss (University of Nebraska football commit), would look to capitalize on the smaller frontcourt of Chavez.
Corona would beat up Corona on the glass in the second period, and jump out to a 22-15 lead with 3:43 left to play in the first half.
A basket inside by Peat and then a wild offensive put-back from Moss would give Corona their biggest margin of the game - 28-17. Then Casey Benson would get into the act, driving to the basket and scoring on a floater after being fouled. Benson's free throw, a three-point play, would give Corona an impressive 31-17 lead with a little over a minute to play in the first half.
Another three-pointer from Benson just before the half, and Corona would take a 34-20 lead at halftime.
Casey Benson would finish the half with a team-high 11 points, while Avery Moss would finish the first half with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Corona would outrebound Chavez 25-16 in the first half.
Chavez would begin the second half only converting 1 of their last 12 field goals. With Chavez on a cold streak and lacking any momentum, Corona would increase their lead to 18 points, 40-22 with just under 5 minutes left to play in the third period.
High-scoring 6-foot senior combo-guard JD Reagan would get hot for Chavez late in the third period, after a shooting slump in the first half.
With Reagan trying to get his team back in the game, another three-pointer from Benson and a sweeping transition layup from Calaen Robinson would nullify his effort. Corona would lead 52-33 after three quarters.
Corona would not look back in the game. While Chavez would fight - outscoring Corona 20-14 in the final period, the lead would loom too large as the Aztecs would win this year's Division-I state championship after a 66-53 victory.
"This is the best team to come through Corona," said a delighted head coach Sam Duane Jr. after the game.