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Corona wins season opener in battle of the Aztecs

Jake Pyatt, Sports Writer

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The varsity basketball team officially opened the new season with a comfortable win over the Copper Canyon Aztecs, 81-65.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Head Coach Neil MacDonald said after the team’s first victory of the season. “It looked like the first game of the season.”

The Aztecs trotted out only three returners from last year’s squad in their starting lineup lead by seniors Alex Barcello and Saben Lee.

Both teams got off to slow starts offensively as neither team could get anything going until senior Shane Grier scored a 3-pointer to put the Aztecs up 8-2 halfway through the opening quarter.

“We were a little slow getting started,” MacDonald said. “We were sloppy early in the game, but once we got a rhythm going we got better.”

The turning point of the game occurred midway through the second quarter. Copper Canyon was hanging around with the Aztecs, but after huge dunks by Lee and Barcello within seconds of each other, the two senior guards were not going to let this one stay close for much longer.

“They both bring a lot to the table,” MacDonald said. “Both of them are really athletic. They both demand a lot of attention on the floor, which creates openings for others. We are privileged to have two guys like that on our roster.”

The Aztecs went into the locker room with a 45-30 halftime lead, which was strongly in part due to of Barcello’s 21 first half points.

Both teams went back and forth in a very fast third quarter with the Aztecs ahead of the visitors 62-44.

Corona went on to to win easily but it was apparent at the end of the game that the Aztecs have work to do defensively.

“We will focus on getting better defensively and rebounding,” MacDonald said. “We had lapses we just can’t have. Those are the keys to winning. If you can defend and rebound everything else will fall into place.”

The Aztecs opened the season to give the Tribe plenty of optimism and hope for what this team can accomplish. The team does not play until Nov. 29 against an always pesky Mountain View in Sammy Duane gymnasium.   

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Corona wins season opener in battle of the Aztecs