Carson High's strategy against Galena was obvious from the outset - control the ball and keep the game in the 40s.
Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia felt that gave him the best chance to win, and he was right.
However, failure to rebound down the stretch and the inability to knock down key shots spelled doom for the Senators, who dropped a 48-39 decision Tuesday night at Morse Burley Gym in a Sierra League boys game.
"We had watched film from their Reno game, and they want to get up and down the floor," said Mendeguia, whose team has lost three straight games. "If we slow the game down, we have a better opportunity against an opponent like that.
"I was happy with our effort. The kids played their hearts out tonight."
In fact, Carson trailed just 31-30 with 6:10 left in the game. That's when the proverbial roof caved in. The Grizzlies went on a 8-2 run in the next 2:30 minutes to build a 39-32 lead - for a three possession lead.
Caleb Wood made it 33-30 with 5:34 left, and then after Alan Cohen misfired, Kirk Gunderson followed in an E.J. Poulsen miss to make it 35-30 with 4:45 remaining. Carson's Cohen scored 20 seconds later to make it a one possession game at 35-32, but a follow shot by Trevor Larson and two free throws by Gunderson made it 39-32 with 3:43 left.
Carson's Matt Nolan scored seven points in a span of three minutes to slice the lead down to 44-39 with 45.5 seconds left. Larson and Wood sealed it with two free throws apiece in the final 17 seconds.
"We took some poor shots (in the second half)," Mendeguia said. "We started playing their game a little bit; got away from what we wanted to do."
That wasn't the case in the first half.
The Senators, who played the final 13-plus minutes of the first half without Rafe King (2 fouls in the first 2:06) and Cohen, who missed the final 11 minutes (with two fouls) led by as many as nine points, 16-7, in the opening 16 minutes. It was the third time in as many games that King has been hindered by early foul trouble.
"Without our top scorer, to only be down 20-18 at the half ...." Mendeguia said. "We executed really well that first half."
Mendeguia said he didn't think about putting King or Cohen back in at all in the first half.
"I felt we might need the fouls in the second half," Mendeguia said. " Our guys off the bench played really well, and executed what we really wanted to do."
The Senators went ahead briefly in the third quarter, outscoring Galena, 6-2, for a 26-25 lead. King, who finished with eight points, buried a 3-pointer from the left corner and then scored on a drive through the lane to key the surge. Cohen's hoop actually gave Carson its last lead of the game at 26-25.
The Senators stayed within three until Galena went on its aforementioned run midway through the fourth quarter.
Carson got just a combined 17 points from King and Nolan, and that's not enough for Carson to win a lot of games. Galena did a nice defensive job on both players.
"Getting a three-possession lead was huge in a game like this," said first-year Galena coach Brian Voyles. "I thought they had a really good strategy. We wanted to run and they wouldn't let us.
"I have a lot of respect for both Matt (Nolan) and Rafe (King). We tried to limit their touches throughout the game, and when they got the ball make it as tough as we could on them."
Carson hosts the Lions Club tournament starting Thursday. Carson plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Reed.