January 19, 2005
In the biggest game of the young Fiesta Region boys basketball season, Mesquite played like a team that won just three region games all last season.
That was bad news against a Hamilton squad that spent last season battling Highland for the region title and spent Tuesday night running away from the eighth-ranked Wildcats in a 64-47 road win.
By virtue of their fifth straight win, the No. 9 Huskies (12-7, 3-0 in region) hold a one-game region lead over Mesquite and Gilbert, both of which Hamilton has defeated.
"We played against some good teams to get us prepared for region (play). That was a big help. It came in to play a lot," said guard Innocent Wells, one of three Hamilton players in double figures.
The Huskies led by just three points midway through the third quarter when Mesquite began to fall apart against the press. Five turnovers and four straight misses by the Wildcats allowed Hamilton to go on a 10-0 run from which Mesquite would never recover.
With Hamilton guards Brian Hampton, Travis Dixon, Drew Suggs and Wells forcing the tempo, the lead grew to as many as 19 points and never dipped into single digits in the fourth period.
"We weren’t running (in the first half) and we feel like that’s our strength," Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said. "We have to get out and run. Once we got running in the second half, that opened up some easy buckets for us."
Mesquite actually led by eight points late in the first quarter, but Hamilton used a 15-3 run to take a four-point lead and never trailed again.
Just as in the Huskies’ third-quarter run, it was Mesquite mistakes that fueled Hamilton’s offense in the second period. The Wildcats turned the ball over five times and shot 1-of-6 from the floor during the Huskies’ 15-3 run.
Mesquite coach Tom Saltzstein said the game would serve as a learning experience for his team.
"You go for a job interview and you get turned down because you don’t have experience. When do you get the experience?" Saltzstein said. "At what point does Mesquite start to get the experience? Tonight was a perfect opportunity."