Basha and Corona del Sol's girls basketbll programs are enjoying long-awaited success after several down years. The schools met Thursday night trying to improve their respective lots in the Division I power rankings as the season enters its final two weeks.
A strong first half by Basha was too much to overcome in the second half for Corona del Sol as Basha managed to hang on for a 56-49 victory at Basha..
It was the 13th win in a row for Basha (17-4, 11-2 power-ranking games), which was coming off back-to-back wins over two expected title contenders -- Hamilton and Mesquite-- in the past week. Basha entered the contest No. 6 in the latest D-I power rankings. Corona del Sol (12-9, 7-6 prg) is at No. 16 at present in the power-rankings and seeking its first state tournament berth since 2006.
"I knew this would be a tough game," Basha coach Rich Meseroll said. "We've had a couple big wins lately, and I told the girls Corona would give them a game. We played pretty well early, but ended up sloppy. Corona kept at us and made a run."
Basha bolted to a 34-19 lead at halftime with junior guard Ceejay Galvan scoring 11 of her team-high 15 points in the half. Galvan was very active and got a lot of her points on hustle and in transition. Basha, which also landed Hayley Pryor (14 points) and Christine Orr (13 points) in double figures, led 38-22 with 6:20 to play in the third period when Corona made the first of two runs that sliced the lead by more than half.
Corona guard Taylor Kalmer, who led all scorers with 21 points, teamed up with sophomore guard Brianna Bell for 13 of Corona's 15 points in the third quarter. Their efforts pulled Corona within 38-32 with two minutes left in the quarter.
Basha appeared to weather the third-quarter comeback bid, bumping it back up to 48-34 with 5:28 to go. Haley Langille, Leilani Peat and Kalmer came up big in the final minutes for Corona. A putback by Peat closed the gap to 54-49 with 24 seconds left, but that was the closest the Lady Aztecs could get before the final buzzer.
"They got too big a cushion and we couldn't get all the way back," Corona del Sol coach Andy Strom said. "We had our moments, the hole we dug was too big."
Strom trotted out a staring lineup comprised of a senior, two juniors (Kalmer and Langille), a sophomore (Bell) and a freshman (Peat). Kalmer has been a prolific scorer for three years forn Corona as well as a good all-around talent in that span. She's already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career and hit for her season average of 21 Thursday. Corona needs three more wins to record the most wins in a season for the program in almost a decade.