Matt Nolan and Rafe King are arguably the best 1-2 backcourt combo in the Sierra League this year, and Thursday night they showed it.Nolan scored 23 of his 25 points in the first half, and when he went cold in the second half, King picked up the slack with 22 of his 24 in the final 16 minutes.Those 49 combined points led Carson to a 63-53 win over Damonte Ranch on the opening day of the 36th annual Lions Club/Capitol Classic at Morse Burley Gym.The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and moved Carson to 4-3 on the season. Carson hosts Reed tonight at 7:30. In other games, Wooster beat Incline 73-45 behind 32 points by J.J. Harloff, and Reed edged Sparks, 61-54, behind Trae Wells’ 23 points.“It was nice to get back to our winning ways,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “It makes practices a lot easier.“We wanted to come out with a lot of energy like we did against Galena. We wanted to get to the glass and be aggressive. We talked about getting layups and not living or dying by the 3-point shot.”Nolan took that to heart. He went 8-for-11 at the line and went 7-for-14 from the floor. He scored 13 of Carson’s 17 in the first quarter and added 10 of Carson’s 17 in the second eight minutes.With King in first-half foul trouble for the fourth straight game, the Senators needed every one of those points to grab a 34-28 lead.“I was able to create my own shot and get to the glass,” Nolan said of his first-half performance. “Rafe got in foul trouble, so I knew I had to pick up the slack. In the second half, Rafe was fresh and we went through him more.”Carson used two major runs to secure that first-half bulge. Carson went on a 15-2 run in a 5-minute stretch in the first quarter to grab a 17-7 lead. Nolan had 11 in that span.Damonte bounced back with a 13-0 run of its own to regain the lead at 20-17 lead with 6:12 left in the half. Six different Mustangs scored in that stretch with Nick Solano’s trey being the biggest score.Brett Cooper’s trey snapped a 23-all tie with 4 minutes left, but Carson stormed back with a half-ending 12-3 run thanks to two more buckets by Nolan and three free throws by Bruce McIntosh.King was frustrated with his inability to stay on the floor in the first half of games.“Yesterday I had a good practice,” he said. “Today I got frustrated. I get stupid fouls. When I got back there in the second half, I had to let the game come to me and I’d eventually score.”The teams traded baskets for the bulk of the third quarter with Damonte holding a 16-14 edge. Carson led 48-44. At one point, King scored nine straight Carson points.Carson eventually upped its lead to 57-47 as King knocked down four straight free throws and a 3-pointer in 2-minute 45-second span. Damonte closed to 57-49, but King scored on a drive and then converted a three-point play on back-to-back possessions to get the lead to double digits, 62-49, with 3:08 left.Can the Senators win consistently with two players accounting for 77 percent of their points?“We can,” King said. “If we get double-teamed we’ll give it up. The other guys need to get involved.”Mendeguia said it’s only natural to defer to the two seniors, and he thinks that’s what may be happening.“We have other guys capable of scoring,” Mendeguia said. “Kyle Steele can shoot the ball, Bruce can shoot it and so can Alan (Cohen).”NOTE: Cameron Price suffered a bloody nose and needed seven stitches after falling hard to the floor. He will miss tonight’s game ... Carson will only play two games in the tournament ... Carson’s next Division I game is Dec. 12 at McQueen.
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