Losing a 20-point game apparently did wonders for top-ranked Tempe Corona del Sol.
Especially when the two-time defending Division I champions know they won’t face anything remotely close to the athleticism of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, a boys basketball national factory that produces major college players.
Corona del Sol gave up six points in the first 3 ½ minutes, closed the first quarter on a 17-0 run and easily beat No.2-ranked Chandler Hamilton 67-32 Tuesday night before a big, boisterous crowd at Corona del Sol.
“I think it showed us a new level we need to playing at, “ senior center Connor MacDougall said about Saturday’s 55-35 loss to Findlay Prep in the Duel in the Desert. “I think it showed the things we need to work on.”
Corona del Sol hung with the big boys of Findlay for more than a half, before Findlay did what it does against public schools that don’t have the luxury of tracking the country for top talent and wore down less-muscular players.
Tuesday, Corona del Sol (14-1) played fast, worked the ball to open players, and clamped down on defense.
Hamilton’s first loss in 14 games this season came quickly as Corona del Sol asserted itself behind the strong play of guard Casey Benson, MacDougall, forward Russ Davis and freshman guard Alex Barcello.
Barcello made three of his four 3-pointers in a 35-16 first half.
Benson, last year’s azcentral sports’ Player of the Year, scored 11 of his 23 points in the third quarter when Corona del Sol got up 59-31.
“I think that game (against Findlay Prep) really prepared us for this game,” Benson said. “We just wanted to play as hard as possible.”
Corona del Sol coach Sammy Duane Jr., was pleased with his team’s defensive intensity.
“Things we were getting away with early in the year, we didn’t get away with (against Findlay),” Duane said. “It definitely helped.
“Earlier in the season, we were thinking we could just outscore everyone. They really came out focused tonight to play defense.”