The Chandler Hamilton boys basketball team is starting to travel in uncharted territory.
With its 63-48 victory over visiting Laveen Cesar Chavez (20-9) in the quarterfinals of the 5A-I state boys basketball tournament Saturday, the Huskies find themselves one game away from playing for a championship.
The furthest the Huskies had ever been previously was to the quarterfinals.
The Huskies (21-10) rode the hot shooting of senior guard John Jackson to get to the semifinals. Seeing his team down 15-14, Jackson scored nine points to start the second quarter.
“I knew if we wanted to win we had to come out and get on top quick,” Jackson said. “We just had to get the job done.”
Jackson scored 15 of his 17 points and 15 of the team’s 21 points in the second quarter. Hamilton guard David Henderson scored the Huskies’ other six points in the quarter.
“That’s what we needed from J.J.,” senior forward Ryan Evans said. “He’s bound to explode like that at any time.”
Before and after Jackson’s offensive burst, Evans led the Huskies on offense, scoring a game-high 21 points.
“He was tremendous tonight,” Jackson said. “We both understand that we are the two main guys on this team and need to step up.”
Hamilton’s win snapped Cesar Chavez’s 16-game winning streak. The streak included its 73-61 upset over No. 3 Sierra Vista Buena. The Champions had also won 18 of their last 19 games coming into the quarterfinals.
The Huskies held Cesar Chavez to 19 points under its season average of 67 points.
“We knew coming in they were bigger than us and we needed to make them work inside,” Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said.
Hamilton will next face No. 10 Phoenix St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Thursday at Jobing.com Arena.
“It’s a relief because last year was a heartbreaker,” Jackson said. The Huskies lost 65-64 to Phoenix Trevor Browne in last year’s quarters.
“This is where I dreamed up of playing,” Evans said. “I want to play Desert Vista in the championship. That’s where I transferred from and that’s who I want to face.”