Tempe (Ariz.) Corona del Sol left no suspense, dominating from opening tip-off, getting out on the break and giving Phoenix Desert Vista little, if anything, to look at on offense all night.
Corona del Sol, putting on a fast-break clinic sparked by defense, captured its Division I state-record-tying fourth consecutive boys basketball state championship with a 57-32 rout before about 7,000 fans Monday.
For the second year in a row, Corona del Sol (33-1) will land a top-10 spot in the national polls, while joining Phoenix Union (1958-61) and Mesa (1923-26) as the only top-division schools in Arizona history to capture four straight state titles. Corona del Sol is ranked No. 16 in this week’s USA TODAY Super 25.
Coach Sam Duane Jr., joins his father, Sam Sr., with his fourth state championship at the school, but he is the first coach in Arizona high school history to win his four all in a row in the top division.
Power forward Cassius Peat finishes his high school career with four state championship rings, as he heads to Michigan State to play football.
“This was making history, being the first player in Arizona (big schools) to win four championships in a row,” Peat said. “It was something I really strived for.”
After close calls against Phoenix Central and Scottsdale Chaparral in the quarterfinals and semis, Corona del Sol’s 70th consecutive win against an Arizona opponent (dating to 2013) all came together in as devastating a fashion it put on during this four-year run of championships.
“That was all started by our defense,” Duane said. “That first half of defense was incredible.
“Our defense created easy ones tonight. Everybody got out and ran.”
After Tarik Cool swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the opening quarter to give Desert Vista a 5-4 lead, Corona del Sol used a swarming defense to create turnovers and didn’t give Desert Vista any good looks around the basket.
Steals turned into dunks, and Corona del Sol couldn’t be slowed.
Corona del Sol was hitting so well that it didn’t need its big guy, 6-foot-11 freshman Marvin Bagley, to go off until late in the first half.
And when he did – hitting two free throws and throwing down three dunks in the final 2:34 of the second quarter – it was over.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Bagley, who exited with a little more than 3 minutes to play with 16 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, five assists and three steals. “It’s a great privilege to be with these guys. It was just a team effort.
“We just had to calm down and play our game like we did all year and the score showed that.”
Corona del Sol had a 31-13 lead by halftime with a keepsake film on how to run the fast break.
It was sharp, efficient, powerful.
Corona del Sol made 13 of 23 shots and only took one 3-pointer in the half.
Dane Kuiper, a 6-7 senior wing, led the break at times, making 4 of 6 shots and handing out five assists, including the last two to Bagley (10 first-half points) under the basket.
Every time Corona del Sol grabbed a rebound or stole the ball, it sprinted down the court with Alex Barcello, Kuiper and Bagley delivering pin-point passes for layups and dunks. Barcello and Kuiper each had eight points in the half, combining on 8 of 13 shooting.
Bagley had nine rebounds and four blocked shots in the half.
“For us to come out like that and D them up like that and get our fast break going, it was great,” Kuiper said.
Desert Vista’s first three baskets in the second quarter came in 2-minute increments.
It was as if Desert Vista (26-5) was moving in quicksand.
Desert Vista made 6 of 24 shots in the half, 1 of 8 3-pointers. It got outrebounded 20-10 with 6-7 senior power forward Brandon Clarke providing the only glimmer of hope with his six rebounds and two blocked shots.
But Clarke, saddled with fouls, didn’t make his first basket until about 6 minutes remained. That was owed to Bagley’s defense.
“We had Marvin D up his man and we all just D’d up our man the best we could,” said Kuiper, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. “This was the one of the best games we ever played. We brought it all tonight.”
Desert Vista coach Tony Darden had to stop to compose himself after saying how proud he was of his players.
“We didn’t attack the rim very well,” Darden said. “They took Brandon out of the game with fouls. He’s our anchor.”