Katherine Hamilton had a notion that she was going to have a big night on Monday.
"We were shooting at our gym earlier today and I was really feeling it," the Dobson junior said. "I was hitting all of my shots."
That feeling carried over to the first half of Dobson's 53-36 win over Highland in the Division I girls basketball state tournament quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Hamilton was aggressive from the start, she opened the game with a 3-pointer and scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the first half as the Mustangs (24-8) advanced to face defending champion St. Mary's in the semifinals on Thursday.
Monday's game was the fifth meeting of the season between the two teams, with Highland winning three of the first four, including a 46-36 victory in the first round of the sectional tournament on Feb. 9. Hamilton said that the familiarity that her and her teammates had allowed them to come out aggressively.
"We weren't nervous because we had played them so many times," Hamilton said. "We were content and we were ready to play. We knew what they run and what kind of defense they play.
"The last time we played them we came out really soft, so we knew we had to come out with energy and intensity from the tip."
Hamilton got the Mustangs offense going with that opening 3-pointer, but she had plenty of help in a first quarter that saw Dobson build a 21-3 lead just seven minutes in to the game. Miyah Leith, Tori Lloyd and Moniek Albach all scored on layups as the Dobson guards found driving lanes. On the outside, Dobson was also hitting, as Aleisha Van Ballegooie and Lloyd hit 3-pointers during that opening period.
"I think the familiarity from the MLK game, in this arena, was big for us," Dobson coach Tyler Dumas said, referring to a 73-59 loss to Chandler at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 16. "I knew how young a team we had and they hadn't played in an arena before that game. We came here, played Chandler, got beat, but we had that experience."
As Highland finally settled in during the second quarter, they still could do nothing to stop Hamilton, who scored 10 of the Mustangs' 12 points in the 2nd, including a 3-pointer as the first-half horn sounded to give Dobson a 33-17 lead.
Highland (29-5) was tentative from the start, and that, combined with Dobson's pressure, forced the Hawks in to 11 first-half turnovers. Highland ended with 18 turnovers and no players in double figures. The Hawks were led by Amy Pavlica's eight points and seven from Olivia Lucero.
Leith added 12 points for Dobson, and Lloyd had seven.