Hamilton brought an unblemished record to Corona del Sol on Tuesday night and left with more blemishes than just the one in season record.
The perfect mark the Huskies built through 13 games let on that the matchup with the two-time defending state champions should be good. But Corona had other plans.
Just moments after the boisterous visiting crowd at Corona intimated the nationally ranked Aztecs to be overrated — what with Hamilton holding a two-point lead in the opening quarter — Corona went on a decisive run to put away the game early.
The Aztecs coasted to a 67-32 victory to rebound from a weekend loss and perhaps quantify just how much the rest of the state still must make up.
Guard Casey Benson spurred the 19-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters. The senior had eight of the first 10 points and assisted on Jarrett Givens' one-handed dunk.
After he sank a 3-pointer Benson motioned to the Hamilton student section, which was not longer chanting.
"You kind of hear everything in a game like that with how packed it was," Benson said with a smile after the game.
"Defensively we really got stops, rebounded and got out in transition and were able to get easy baskets. It really propelled us to go on a big run and we never looked back."
Corona (14-1) opened up a 20-point lead in the first half and ballooned it to 28 through three quarters and then held Hamilton (13-1) to one point in the fourth.
"It was a little disappointing from our standpoint," Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said. "I was hoping we'd execute better and maybe get out in transition. But they took all of that away and made everything difficult for us.
"We haven't really faced adversity this year. This was a concern: How would we handle that adversity? I don't think we folded but there started to be doubt."
Benson led Corona with 23 points, while freshman Alex Barcello chipped in 13 off the bench — including eight during the pivotal run.
"Almost all of our offense came from what we did on defense," Corona coach Sammy Duane Jr. said. "I learned that we can really buckle down on defense when we set our mind to it."
Zachary Evans' nine points led Hamilton, whose previous season low was 49 in a 19-point win over Red Mountain in late-November.
"I hoped we'd play better," Hartwig said. "They're deep and have a lot of weapons. They defended well and we don't match up really well. We had a hard time defending them."
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