It was a rare day for Hamilton's girls basketball team.
First, the Huskies held a size advantage inside against Tolleson during Monday's Division I state tournament quarterfinal. That hasn't happened but a hand's worth of times this season.
What to do with such an advantage? Take advantage.
The Huskies did, and capitalized on some pressure defense, cold shooting and Aliyah Dickson inside in a 60-45 victory at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Huskies advanced to Thursday's semifinals at Jobing.com Arena at 4:15 against the winner of Monday night's Chandler-Mountain View matchup.
Secondly, it's Hamilton's first state tournament semfinal berth in school history.
The Huskies would like to beat Chandler after a blowout and narrow loss to the Wolves earlier this season. The Huskies would like another shot at the Toros, as well, after last season's first-round playoff loss which ended with a controversial 6-on-5 play to end the game, won by the Toros.
"We knew what we had to do," Dickson said.
Hamilton and Tolleson met during Highland's Thanksgiving weekend tournament, but the Wolverines - who won the last three Class 5A-II state championships - didn't have the size or quickness defensively to handle Dickson.
She got Tolleson into foul trouble from the start, and really made the Wolverines pay when she hit 15 of 16 free throws to account for most of her 21 points.
Her rebounding alongside Kyndall Adams and Ashlee Moore was equally pivotal, as the Huskies gradually pushed their lead wider as the game went on.
"We missed, I think, 10 layups in the first quarter," Tolleson coach Todd Nelson said. "I think we hit some of those, we're close."
Instead, it was 30-23 at halftime in favor of Hamilton, and cold shooting and turnovers plagued Tolleson the rest of the way.
"They can light you up quick, we tried to make them dribble and take away their jump shooting," Hamilton coach Jeff Kain said. "We tried to spread them out and get them into foul trouble."
The early stages of the fourth quarter broke it open. Dickson continued to get to the free throw line, while balance from Lauren Evans and Moore pushed Hamilton's lead deeper into double digits as the Huskies continued to rebound and defend.
Evans finished with 15 points. Moore added 10 and Adams had nine. Briana White led Tolleson with 14 points.
The bigger, colder venues and infuse of intensity are coming, and even though the Huskies are new to the back end of this tournament, they say it would un-wise to read much into what was a quiet postgame locker room.
"Once you get there, you want more and more of it," Dickson said. "I'm just happy. I'm excited."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.