Top-ranked Corona del Sol used an explosive third quarter Friday to pull away from feisty Desert Ridge 61-56 in a Central Region clash.
Aztecs coach Neil MacDonald commented on his team's focus out of the break.
"We started slow tonight without question. Sluggish offense combined with getting everyone's best effort is not a good thing. I'm pleased with our intensity on defense. It helped us get some space," emphasized MacDonald.
The sixth-ranked Jaguars were able to keep it close via rebounding. The effort in the first half evened the score at 23. Coach Greg Ream's squad unfortunately turned it over twice in the final minute of the second and Corona capitalized going on a quick 6-0 burst into the break
"That was devastating. We had them in the first 16 minutes where we wanted it," replied Ream.
The third quarter was the difference.
Alex Barcello and Saben Lee took control along with help from the Corona defense as the Aztecs held the Jaguars to just eight points to expand it to 12.
The two Divisionn I signees (Lee and Barcello) combined for 39 of the Aztecs 61. But their game management down the stretch killed most of the clock on two key possessions.
Ream wasn't discouraged by Desert Ridge's effort by any means.
"We had a slight chance there but overcoming a dismal third is challenging against a great opponent in Corona del Sol. We needed to get some more inside. They did well defending our bigs. We will be prepared in this gauntlet that is 6A Basketball," added Ream.
MacDonald likes where his team is at with two difficult region wins in the rear view. They'll take it in stride.
"We switched to a man defense and they got back in it a little bit. We're going to improve on those things and the rebounding," added MacDonald.
Lee had 16 points to complimented Barcello's 23.