It had been five years since Chandler last played in the state tournament and Marco Morales was determined not to let this year's appearance end up in the one-and-done category.
Morales drained nine of the Wolves' 14 3-pointers and scored 29 points as 18-seed Chandler defeated 15-seed Desert Vista 76-64 in a first-round game at Desert Vista.
Morales nailed shots from two steps all the way back to six steps behind the 3-point line. He sank 3s with hands in his face and even bodies at his feet.
And the senior was efficient. He missed just two field goals, one a heave from three-quarter court at the halftime buzzer — it was on line but short of the rim.
"He showed up when we needed him," said Chandler coach Mark Nold, whose team did not play in last week's section tournament but will face second-seeded Dobson at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round. "The thing about a shooter is you have to keep shooting. Some games you struggle. But I always say the best will rise when the best is needed and that's what he did tonight.
Morales, who attempted just one two-point field goal, finished three points off his career high set last year. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation late in the fourth quarter.
"I did not want to go home tonight," Morales said. "We had to capitalize on this opportunity. Once I got my flow going it was over. But we took good shots. If you take heat-check shots, DV is a good and turning those bad shots into points. It's just like a turnover to them."
Morales had four 3s in the opening quarter, one in the second and two each on the third and fourth. His final bomb from well beyond the top of the key with 2:05 to play stemmed the tide for the Wolves after their 10-point lead was cut to two.
"We knew we had to stop that and we couldn't do it," Desert Vista coach Dave Williams said of Morales' outside shooting. "He was shooting from five feet behind the line. We told our guys but he was just on tonight. Good for him."
Morales wasn't Chandler's only sharpshooter. Zach Mancuso hit three 3s and had 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Bryce Perkins added nine points.
"We're a team that is not big and is not super athletic so we have to execute and make shots," Nold said. "We made shots tonight."
Brandon Clarke led the Thunder with 14 points — but had just three in the second half — and Quincy Taylor added 13.
"We're a young team and we weren't quite ready for this stage," said Williams, whose team led by two and halftime but trailed 55-45 one possession into the fourth quarter.
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