Basha v. Corona

Corona del Sol defeats Basha, Wins Central region crown, 27-7

Thursday nights Cox7 television game was, quite simply, the battle for the Central Region Championship. Basha and Corona would square off and the winner would get the region crown as this years champion.

Senior night at Corona and the Basha Bears intended to spoil the evening as Tim McBurney's squad knew that a win would clinch a home playoff game.

The Aztecs looked to claim solo championship rights and a high seeding for next weeks 5A-1 tournament, with the prospects of possibly hosting two playoff games. After dropping their first two games of the season to Dobson and Red Mountain, Corona del Sol was looking to win their eighth in a row.

Basha came out with good field position on their possession. An illegal procedure penalty inside the five pushed them back and then they missed a field goal attempt. Corona then cashed in on a fourth and 1, with JR Hamm slamming over the left side for the first down. A couple of plays later Kirby Pellent swept the right side and the Aztecs led 7-0.

The Bears came right back. Speedy tailback Quinn Evans shook free and ran through the Corona defense for a long pick-up inside the five yard line. From there, the huge Basha offensive line led the way for a 1 yard Dusty Rush touchdown. Game tied.

A big turning point in the half came when Basha's punt returner muffed a chance and the ball was recovered by Corona's Brandon Stern. Sophomore quarterback Chase Cartwright made it payoff for the Aztecs by hitting tightend Joey Kamper from inside the five. 14-7 Corona.

Basha had a couple of bad breaks in the half. First, Pellent made a terrific pick on Bear's quarterback Troy Graham to snuff out a Basha drive. Then, late in the half, the game turned for the worse for Basha when Graham was hit from behind on an attempted pass. He gutted out the rest of the half but did not return in the second. Coaches reported to the booth a possible ACL injury. Results are still not in.

With Graham out, the Bears went with sophomore Michael Benjamin at quarterback. According to stats, Benjamin had not attempted a varsity pass all season. His first pass on the first possession was subsequently picked off by Pellent, who was everywhere on the night. He then kicked a field goal to put CDS up 17-7 and the game was pretty much over at that point.

Another Pellent field goal and a Kyle Schmella run put the final score at 27-7, a convincing performance for an Aztec team many felt prior to the season might win five games. Now, they wait to see which school will come to Tempe to try and stop the streak, the second longest active in 5A-1 to Hamilton.

Game balls to Pellent, a no brainer, and to Hamm, who carried the ball a season high 30 times for a tough 122 yards. Also, credit the Aztecs no-name defense with shutting down a talented Bears offense. Despite Basha's size, the quickness of the Corona interior lineman was too much for the Bear's to deal with.


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