Corona del Sol and Pinnacle offered a terrific Division I boys basketball state championship game a year ago and they will get the chance to do it again.
After each team survived a 3-point barrage from their respective semifinals opponent Friday, the Aztecs and Pioneers will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Corona is gunning for its third straight state title and will play in its fourth championship game since 2006. The Aztec prevailed 63-59 a year ago.
"It's amazing that we're back in the championship game," Corona coach Sam Duane said after his team's 78-66 semifinals win over Perry. "It's a testament to out guys. It's hard to get to this far three years in a row."
Corona senior Casey Benson is one of a couple Aztecs with the chance to finish their career with three championships.
"I never imagined this, never thought about it," said Benson, who had 30 points against Perry. "Pinnacle is a great team and that should be a great game."
The Aztecs had a similar, though less fruitful, run when they played in for the title in 1990, 1994 and 1996, all under Duane's father of the same name; they won the 1994 game.
"I haven't enjoyed it as much as I should have," Duane said.
Pinnacle was focused all season on getting back to championship in its search for the program's first title.
"This is where we wanted to be," Pioneers coach Charles Wilde said. "The format of three games in three days really sets up well for the most talented team and Corona is the most talented team. But we'll worry about us."
Duane appreciated the sentiment but wasn't buying it.
"It's for the state championship and you can throw all that stuff window," said Duane, whose team survived a stellar shooting display and 26 points from Perry freshman Markus Howard.
That the Aztecs again face Pinnacle means they do not play Dobson, after the Mustangs came up short in its bid for a first championship game appearance in its third run to the semifinals in school history and first since the 2004-2005 season.
Dobson duo Kodi Justice and Ryan Richardson each scored 16 points but they shot a combined 11-for-23. The Mustangs as a team shot 41.5 percent from the field, including 25 percent from 3-point range.
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