If the first week of the season is any indication, Mesa should have plenty to look forward to in the 2009-10 boys basketball season.
Jahii Carson scored 20 points and Adam Milkovich added 15 to pace the second-ranked Jackrabbits past Chandler Hamilton 70-46 on Saturday night to win its Fear the Hop tournament.
The 3-0 start for Mesa is impressive considering the Jackrabbits still don't have a few football players on the court because Mesa reached next week's 5A-I state football semifinals. Also, Mesa's star, Blondy Baruti, won't be eligible until after the new year because of a recruiting violation.
It still looked like Mesa had too much for Hamilton on this night.
"The biggest thing for us is we have depth," Jackrabbits coach Shane Burcar said. "We're missing a couple of guys, our depth is really good. The thing was we got out to a good defensive game. I was surprised at how well we did tonight."
The Huskies a year removed from a state semifinal appearance never got their offense in gear and had a hard time with Carson.
Jerry Harville led the Huskies with 17 points while an early Jackrabbit zone kept shooter Jack Cone and spark plug Micah Fetters off the scoreboard until the game was already getting out of hand.
Mesa scored the first seven points and led 16-2 after five minutes following a pretty basket by Carson after back-and-forth passing with Justin McCary after a Hamilton turnover. At the outset, the ultra-quick 5-foot-10 Carson penetrated and tried to create opportunities, scoring six points at the start, all on layups.
"We want to go as fast as we can," Burcar said. "What we say is run and gun with intelligence the whole time. We have the personnel to do that."
The Jackrabbits scored the last six points of the second quarter and led 32-17 at the break.
"We knew we had to come out and kind of weather their storm right away, and we didn't do that," Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said. "They jumped on us right quick, and Jahii is such a handful to contain with the basketball."
Then, to make sure Hamilton didn't get any thoughts of trying to get some momentum, Mesa scored the first 10 points of the second half. Mohamad Sobh (12 points) and Milkovich each stole passes and made layups in the first minute of the third quarter to set the tone.
Hamilton never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Still, Hartwig said it was a learning experience.
"Tonight identified some of our weaknesses, things we have to work on," he said. "I think we can be a decent ballclub. Our region is going to be tough with Mesa and (Phoenix) Brophy and (Mesa) Red Mountain. But we needed this tonight to find out what we need to work on."
Cone, who led Hamilton with 19 points in the win Wednesday over Tempe Corona del Sol that got the Huskies into the tournament final, was held to seven points and he didn't get a shot until the second quarter or a basket until 2:55 left in the first half.
In addition to giving Mesa a title in its own tournament after losses the last two years, the win also sets up an interesting early season matchup on Thursday at 5A-I No. 1 Phoenix North, the defending state 5A-II champion.
"Now we got the showdown Thursday with North," Burcar said. "After these three games, I was surprised how well we have done. I know we have it in us, but the results are really impressive for us right now."
In the third-place game, David Whitmore scored 18 points and Calaen Robinson added 16 to lead Corona del Sol past Gilbert 66-53.