GLENDALE - Avery Moss saw the Corona del Sol seniors crying in the locker room last season after a quarterfinal loss to Mountain View.
Ever since then, he's remained convinced he won't share that feeling.
The senior forward blocked the game-tying 3-point attempt by Desert Vista's Danny Powell with two seconds remaining as the top-seeded Aztecs held on for a 49-46 victory in the Division I boys basketball state semifinals on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena.
Corona del Sol advances to face No. 6 seed Cesar Chavez in the state championship game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Jobing.com Arena.
"The only thing I've wanted all my high school career is a state ring," Moss said. "I feel like we've had so many chances and so many letdowns. I'm tired of being let down. Me and Calaen (Robinson), we've already promised each other, we're not going to let that happen to us our senior year."
The Aztecs looked to be cruising to a state championship berth when it led 28-19 at the half, but Desert Vista hung tough.
The lead was 42-33 with 5:57 remaining until the Thunder answered. Kyle Pitman cut the deficit to two points by making one-of-two free throws with 38 seconds remaining, and Corona del Sol turned the ball over on its next possession to really give Desert Vista a chance.
Powell missed a reverse lay-up and Pitman's tip-in try was off. Robinson, who scored a game-high 21 points, snared the rebound and was fouled. He missed a free throw to give the Thunder life, but Powell was heavily guarded coming off a double-screen and Moss got a hand on the ball.
Powell finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder. Connor MacDougall had seven points and nine rebounds.
Benson had 13 points for Corona.
The Aztecs are 31-1 on the season and have won 29 straight games, and while the second half wasn't pretty, the team got the job done.
"There were times there when I was like, 'Whoa', but we found ways to win," Corona del Sol coach Sammy Duane said.
Some believed Corona del Sol and Mountain View were the two best teams in 5A-I last season, but a tough draw sent the Aztecs packing early and the Toros went on to win the title.
The season before, when Robinson and Moss were sophomores, Corona del Sol lost to eventual champion Phoenix North.
"After last season, they've been focused from the get-go," Duane said. "They said, 'You know what? This is what we want to do.' The whole key has been maturity. Calaen matured. Avery matured. We matured as a team. I don't think we were mature enough last year to win it."
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