GLENDALE – The Ironwood Ridge High School boys basketball team is one win away from another title.
The defending champion Nighthawks will again be heading to the 5A-II state championship game after a 72-51 dismantling of Phoenix South Mountain at Jobing.com Arena on Friday.
Chad Carter led the No. 1 Nighthawks with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the dominating win over No. 12-seeded South Mountain.
“I just came down and tried to create for my team,” Carter said. “I put some shots up and they went in. I felt good.”
Ironwood Ridge will try to win its second straight title Saturday when it takes on No. 2 Phoenix North at noon at Jobing.com.
Carter outscored South Mountain 20-13 in the first half, as Ironwood Ridge took a 20-point lead into halftime.
“Last year, our go-to-guy was Austin Smith,” said Ironwood Ridge coach Brian Peabody. “This year it’s been Chad Carter. Over the last month, he’s been unbelievable.”
Nighthawks center Brandon Duilakas added 20 points, 12 boards and six blocks.
The Jaguars were led by Shakir Preston’s 18 points.
Ironwood Ridge was able to attack the basket at will throughout the game and went 23 of 32 from the free-throw line – including 13 of 16 in the fourth quarter. The Nighthawks had only four field goals in their 21-point final quarter.
South Mountain was the 5A-II tournament “Cinderella” after toppling No. 5 Rincon/University and No. 4 Anthem Boulder Creek.
“We were really good when we extended our press, and we were really good in the half-court,” Peabody said of his team’s defensive effort.