Duane sees ‘09 hoop team as potentially ‘dangerous’
By: Alex Zener
December 6, 2008

Depth, quickness and a team commitment to win: they’re the qualities around which Corona del Sol is building this year’s b Head coach Sammy Duane not only returns five players from last year’s varsity team but has such a variety of potentially good players, he may be able to match up with almost any lineup an opponent throws his way.

“I think we have a tremendous amount of depth and quickness this season,” said Duane.

“We can go small, and press and run, but we can also go with a big lineup. We have some younger guys coming up that need to get some experience but I think down the road we could be a very dangerous team.”

Duane will be relying on senior Leland Devlin, one of the best scorers in the state, averaging 18.9 points a game last season, to also provide leadership and experience this season.

“We have a lot of good players this season at every position,” said Devlin. “But our biggest challenge will be to learn how to play together.”

Another senior, Andrew Fox, at 6-4, can play just about any position according to Duane.

“We will be depending on Andrew to lead us on the court, score and rebound,” said Duane. “Additionally, 6’5” senior Michael Stahl had a very good pre-season and will be counted on to give us a force inside on the boards and defensively.”

Other returning varsity players from last season are juniors David Whitmore and Tarik Smith.

“David Whitmore has really developed his offense in the off-season,” said Duane. “He will be counted on to give us major minutes and at 6’5” to supply good rebounding and scoring.”

“Tarik Smith also gives us experience and great quickness,” said Duane. “We need him to be an outstanding defender and an excellent scoring threat.”

Two other seniors, Tory Gomez and David Logston will help with leadership according to Duane. Gomez can also be counted on to come off the bench as an offensive threat while Logston brings great energy and hustle that can be contagious when he gets into the game.

Duane also has a number of younger players, Kyle Noon, Damani Parrish, Antonio Blevins, Brooks Tennyson and Marcel Towns that he is expecting to contribute each day in practice and eventually play hard in games.

The Central region will be tough as usual according to Duane but he thinks Basha is going to be very good.

“In the 5A conference, St. Mary’s and Highland are the preseason favorites,” said Duane “but it is a long season and anything can happen.”

In addition to learning how to play together as a team, the Aztecs will need to focus on taking care of the ball, defending and rebounding this season.

“If we can take care of the ball and have a good defensive mentality, then we should win,” said David Whitmore.
“I think we will need to be up-tempo and create scoring off of our defense,” said Duane. “With our depth of players we will have to sacrifice individual player agendas for the good of the team. We think we have a chance to be a very good team.”

The Aztecs beat Desert Vista 56-54 to take third place in the Mesa High School’s Thanksgiving Fear the Hop Tournament Nov. 29. Corona will opened the regular season Dec. 2 at Dobson and played their next two games at home, Dec. 5 against Gilbert and Dec. 9 against Mesa Mountain View.

Girls Basketball 12-5-2008

Corona del Sol Girl’s basketball program has a new head coach and a fresh start for the 2008-2009 season. They also have the potential to become a good basketball team according to new head coach Andy Strom. With five returning players—only two of them starters from last year--Strom has his work cut out for him.

“We have been working hard to prepare for the season,” said Strom. “The girls are doing a great job of grasping the basketball concepts I’m trying to teach them and they have great attitudes.”

Although the regular high school basketball season only started a month ago, Strom did get a head start on the season when he coached the Lady Aztecs during the summer.

“As a new head coach, I was able to evaluate the returning players from last season and also any new potential varsity players during the summer,” said Strom. “I was able to incorporate the new players into our system during the Highland Summer League and the ASU team camp.”

Strom is relying on the leadership of the two returning starters, guards Nicole Coggins and Kim Pestalozzi.

“We feed off of Nicole and Kim,” said Strom. “They make things happen on the court.”

“I am a team captain so I need to keep everyone enthusiastic about playing and not let anyone get down on themselves,” said Pestalozzi. “I try to keep everyone feeling part of the team.”

Strom, though, expects every player to step up and be a leader in practice on and off the court.

In addition to Coggins and Pestalozzi, Strom is also counting on returning forward Sydney Vanda, averaging 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, and returning post players Andrea and Alissa Beaird. Andrea is leading the team in rebounds averaging 9.4 rebounds a game while her sister Alissa leads the team in scoring at 10 points per game.

Strom is relying on several players to come off the bench and play key roles including guard Taylor Godfrey and forward Suzi Placencia. Godfrey scored 20 points, had 7 assists and 13 rebounds in the first five games while 5’10” Placencia had 22 rebounds, 1 blocked shot and 18 points in the first five games.

Other players who have come onto the court ready to play when the coach called their name are guard Christina Stough, forward Cecilia Yocham, guard Chantel Young and guard Jessica Pena.

Players expected to contribute more as the season progresses are guard Alicia Jack, forward Allison Gordon, forward Katlyn Mason and guard Jenna Chittenden.

While one of the Lady Aztecs strengths this season may be their defense, they have set their goals to have fun, be a team and win, according to Pestalozzi.

The Lady Aztecs played in the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament with mixed results winning two but losing three games—the last one to Seton Catholic. Corona started the regular season Dec. 2 at home against Dobson.

The Lady Aztecs have a tough schedule to start their season playing right away against Dobson, Gilbert, Mountain View, Highland and North.  They will play the Gilbert and Mountain View on the road, Dec. 5 at Gilbert and Dec. 9 at Mesa Mountain View. The Lady Aztecs next home game will be Dec. 12 against Highland.

The Lady Aztecs team goals this season are to have a winning record, win the Central Region and to make it to state.
“We can attain these goals, if we continue working hard in practice, trusting our coaches and helping each other become the best player we can be,” said Pestalozzi.  “We are not about one individual, we are about the team.”

Corona Football 12_5_2008

Just when the Aztecs defense thought they were back on track, Mesa Mountain View scored four touchdowns—three in the third quarter—to end Corona’s state playoff run beating the Aztecs 29-8. It was the Aztecs third loss in four games after starting the season 8-0. Mountain View remains the only team still unbeaten in the 5A Division I conference at 12-0 and will face Brophy in the state semi-finals Dec. 5.

Mountain View scored on their second possession when Daniel Diaz caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Blake Decker. The two-point conversion was successful putting the Lions up 8-0.

The Aztecs tied the game at 8-8 on their first possession in the second quarter. Corona quarterback Chase Cartwright showed that he could throw the ball by completing a 50-yard touchdown pass to senior Brendon Tunstall. Kyle Benson caught the point after conversion pass from Cartwright in the back of the end zone to even the game.
Corona was not able to score the rest of the game but Mountain View’s scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to win their 12th straight game this season 29-8.

The Aztecs ended the season 9-3--the same as last year. Although the team fell short of their goal to play in the state championship game, several individual players on both offense, defense and special teams had stellar seasons.

On offense, junior running back Michael Lange, was not only the leading rusher at over 125 yards a game but the team’s leading scorer with 132 points. Lange scored 22 touchdowns this season. The next leading scorer was senior Kirby Pellant with 55 overall points scoring two touchdowns, three field goals and 34 point after kicks.

As starting quarterback, junior Chase Cartwright was not called on to pass the ball much this season, but nonetheless, he completed 52% of his passes for 1160 total yards, 10 touchdown passes averaging over 105 yards passing a game. Cartwright also rushed for five touchdowns during the season.

Offensively, the Aztecs had a bevy of players score touchdowns during the season. Altogether Corona had 17 players score touchdowns including Althiede and Tunstall with five each, Ryan Nolan, Austin Crothers and Zachery Sitton with three each, and Pellant, Benson, Cody Dana, Derek Maisel and Alan Stitt with two TD’s each.

Corona’s defense was known for its quickness and hard-hitting tackles. Seniors Tyler Giannonatti and Evan Althiede lead the way both averaging over 10 tackles a game. Senior Vince Bonanno lead the team in sacks but Zeric Butters, Luke Macchiaroli, Althiede and Todd Peat were not far behind.

Pellant and Althiede lead the team in interceptions with four each but Benson and Nolan followed with three each. Quite a few defensive players recovered fumbles but junior Kyle Winstead was the one that not only gained the most yards on a fumble recovery this season but ran the ball 47 yards and a touchdown in the Tucson game.

Kirby Pellant was an all around player on special teams. If he wasn’t kicking the ball, he was returning the opponent’s punts. He kicked off 14 times for touchbacks and punted the ball an average of 48 yards a punt. He was Corona’s only punt returner averaging over 17 yards a return. Pellant was also the leading point after kicker scoring 34 PAT points. Jackson Allen and Josh Van Allworden also had special team kicking roles on kickoffs and punts throughout the season.

As a total, the offensive team averaged over 200 yards rushing, over 100 yards passing and over 37 points a game. The defensive team averaged over 73 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 sacks a game.

Only four teams remained as of Dec. 4: Mesa Mountain View, Brophy, Red Mountain and Chandler Hamilton. The 5A Division I state champion will be determined Dec. 12 at the University of Phoenix stadium.




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