Tempe Corona del Sol showed the disparity between the No.1-ranked team in Division I and the top team in Division II.
Then again, Corona del Sol lately has shown there is a substantial gap between it and the rest of Arizona, Division I included, after defeating Phoenix Shadow Mountain 79-52 Monday night in the finale of the five-game Martin Luther King Basketball Classic at Grand Canyon University Arena.
Russ Davis made four of his six 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 20 points. Casey Benson also had 20 points, and made four of six 3-pointers, paving the way against Shadow Mountain, which now has lost twice in this arena this season. Corona del Sol also beat Shadow Mountain in the Hoophall West.
But this was much more impressive, even without 6-foot-9 center Connor MacDougall, who suffered an ankle injury over the weekend after leading Corona del Sol to wins over Gilbert Highland and Gilbert last week with 29 points and 22 rebounds.
Coach Sam Duane Jr., said MacDougall is “day to day,” but if the playoffs were now, he probably would have played. There are three weeks left, before Corona del Sol has worry about that. For now, it showed how versatile it can be, winning small.
Monday, junior Cassius Peat took MacDougall’s place in the starting lineup and helped hold leading scorer Carlos Johnson to just two first-half points, as Corona del Sol, the No.1 team in Division I, jumped out to a 45-21 lead.
“We really moved the ball early on,” Duane said. “We made the extra pass.”
Corona del Sol (18-1) made eight of 14 3-pointers in the half. Top-ranked Division II Shadow Mountain (18-2), which has lost its only two games to Corona del Sol, was two of 10 from the arc. Sophomore guard Michael Bibby provided most of Shadow Mountain’s offense in the half with eight points, but it came on three of 11 shooting.
Corona del Sol has won its past six games by double digits since losing its only game to national power Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
Shadow Mountain was led by Bibby’s 15 points. Johnson had 14 points and JJ Rhymes 10. All three are sophomores.
Corona del Sol made 48 percent of its shots, 56 percent (eight of 14) from 3-point range. It also outrebounded Shadow Mountain 37-33. Dane Kuiper had nine rebounds and 10 points.
“We have a lot of ways we can play,” Duane said.