There are only two starters back from the title-winning Corona del Sol boys basketball team of a year ago.
But if Bryan Siefker and Casey Benson can consistently match Friday night’s performance, the Aztecs have a chance to make another deep postseason run.
Benson scored 28 points on only 15 shots and Siefker played terrific defense against Jaron Hopkins as No. 7 Corona del Sol knocked off No. 3 Dobson, 72-64, in a Division I matchup at Corona.
The Mustangs, the Tribune’s preseason No. 1 team, boast three Division I-caliber prospects but it was Corona's experienced duo which helped control the game.
Benson had 11 points in the first quarter and made big shots time and again.
“These are the types of games you live to play in,” he said.
Hopkins, who has committed to play for Colorado next season, had 12 points in the first half but none in the second while battling foul trouble.
Hopkins sat for more than half of the third quarter after drawing his fourth foul and picked up his fifth on a loose ball foul with 6:53 still remaining in the contest.
Siefker played a big role in frustrating Hopkins, drawing three charges and forcing him into 5-of-12 shooting from the field.
“Bryan Siefker doesn’t get a lot of credit but he did a fabulous job,” Corona del Sol coach Sam Duane said.
Dobson held an early 15-9 lead but the Aztecs (7-1) closed the first quarter on a 14-1 run. It was a one-point game after back-to-back buckets by Hopkins with five minutes left before halftime but Corona del Sol stretched the lead to 11 at the break.
The Mustangs (7-2) actually outscored Corona del Sol 16-9 with Hopkins on the bench at the end of the third quarter and would get within six points in the fourth, but could not get any closer.
Adam Gleave had 12 points while Braden Tennyson and Cassius Peat added 10 apiece for Corona del Sol.
Ryan Richardson, who has a scholarship offer from Weber State, had 12 points for Dobson. Kodi Justice, an Arizona State verbal commitment, had seven in his first game of the season. He missed the first two and a half weeks with a foot fracture.
The Aztecs struggled a bit at the season-opening Fear the Hop tournament, but have now won five straight, with this one the most impressive.
“This was a great challenge for us,” Benson said. “We needed to come out and be aggressive. Playing in this type of game (early on) will only help us.”