Top-ranked Tempe Corona del Sol survived a huge scare from seventh-ranked Phoenix Central, erasing a nine-point deficit in the final quarter and advancing to the Division I Super Sectional II final with a 66-63 victory on Friday night. Central guard Obi Megwa’s 3 with three seconds left cut it to one, but Central called a timeout when it didn’t have one and was hit with a technical. Point guard Alex Barcello, who had 27 points, cashed in at the line and Central couldn’t pull off a miracle shot like it did to beat Phoenix Pinnacle earlier in the season. Megwa had 21 points and 6-foot-5 senior Famoun Miller 19 to lead Central, one of the more dangerous teams in the state with its quickness, speed, ability to shoot and share and great cohesion. Most of the Central players have been together for four years and it shows. But Corona del Sol’s talent, led by 6-11 freshman Marvin Bagley III and Barcello took over in the second half. Corona del Sol (27-1) still has to beat Phoenix St. Mary’s for the Super Sectional title tonight to lock up the No.1 seed in the Division I state tournament.
WHAT WE LEARNED
The power-points formula has coaches wracking their brains, trying to figure how teams are moving up and down during the sectionals. And with the four teams that reached the super sectionals finals securing the top four spots at state, it is becoming exasperating for teams who built a season’s worth of power points only to tumble with a sectional loss. For example, Scottsdale Chaparral went 18-0 in the regular season in power-points games and came into its super sectional as the No.2 overall seed in Division I. But after losing to Mesa Mountain View in overtime on Friday in the semifinals, Chaparral will be no better than a 5 seed. Central’s heart-breaking loss to giant Corona only will make it a 6, 7 or 8 seed at state, as Phoenix Desert Vista is ranked one spot ahead of Central, despite losing to Central in overtime in the super sectional quarterfinal Wednesday. Central coach Darren Bustos thought his team should be rewarded based on strength of schedule. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s, which came into the super sectional with a 14-12 overall record and not among the top 12 in power points is no worse than a 4-seed at state after its super sectional semifinal victory over Laveen Cesar Chavez. Mesa Mountain View, St. Mary’s, Corona del Sol and Mesa all hold the top four seeds in the state tournament because they reached the finals of the two super sectionals.
ON THE RISE
St. Mary’s (16-11) is red-hot, behind great team play and Friday’s massive performance by sophomore point guard Marcus Shaver, who poured in 39 points in a 66-46 rout of second-ranked Laveen Cesar Chavez in the Super Sectional semifinal. St. Mary’s beat fifth-ranked Gilbert 59-57 on Wednesday in the Super Sectional quarterfinal on Austin Escobedo’s tip-in. Escobedo is the brother of former St. Mary’s and Arizona State softball pitching ace Dallas Escobedo. “Mostly we are finally healthy and our defense and rebounding have been the best all year,” coach Ty Amundsen said. “The team is sharing the ball and trusting each other.”
UNDER THE RADAR
Mesa junior forward Darius Goudeau doesn’t jump out in a crowd. He is only 6 feet 3. But he spends most of the game under the basket, making plays. He is the mop-up guy and when the Jackrabbits need a big bucket or rebound, he delivers. He had 23 points and 18 rebounds in Friday’s 68-52 Super Sectional semifinal win over Anthem Boulder Creek, advancing Mesa to tonight’s final against rival Mesa Mountain View, an overtime winner over Chaparral.