RENO - Carlos Mendeguia, Carson High boys basketball coach, didn't pull any punches. He was straight to the point and right on in his assessment.
"We're struggling to put the ball in the hole," he said. "It started (Friday) night and carried over to (Saturday). A lot of times we're not being patient and letting the offense do its thing."
The Senators shot just 35 percent in dropping a hard-fought 54-44 decision to Galena in a Sierra League game Saturday afternoon. With the win, Galena swept the season series.
Of course it didn't help that Carson played without starter Bruce McIntosh (ankle) and Kyle Denning (head/neck injury). McIntosh stepped on a teammates foot during warm-ups at Douglas, but played quite a bit, according to Mendeguia. Denning took a hard spill against North Valleys last week and has yet to be cleared by his doctor. It forced Mendeguia to go with different personnel groupings.
"Both of them are among our top seven players," Mendeguia said. "It hurt our rotation, but at the same time it gave other guys a chance to play and show what they can do."
One thing Mendeguia can be proud of is the way his team fought back. Carson trailed 42-20 with 4:08 left in the third period, but sliced the deficit all the way down to four, 46-42, with 1:26 left before the Grizzlies knocked down eight straight free throws to end the game.
"We're looking for more of an attack mentality," said Galena coach Brian Voyles, whose team remains tied with Douglas in the Sierra League standings.
Carson used an 11-2 run to end the third period, cutting the lead to 42-31.
Rafe King (14 points) started the surge with a 3-pointer, and after Kirk Gunderson scored with 4:08 left to make it 42-23, the Grizzlies failed to score. Galena turned the ball over five times in that stretch and missed its only shot.
Carson scored the next eight points to make it 42-31 after three. Four different players scored in the surge.
After Max Erickson opened the fourth quarter with a basket to make it 44-31. Carson went on a 11-2 run to make it 46-42 with 1:26 remaining. Matt Nolan, who failed to score a basket, drained six free throws and Alan Cohen knocked down a 3-pointer to lead the way.
That set the stage for Caleb Wood, who along with Erickson, knocked down a combined eight free throws without a miss to put the game away.
Wood was a thorn in the side of Carson most of the night. He finished with a game-high 24, 13 of those coming in the first quarter when Galena built a 22-12 lead.
Mendeguia put Nolan on him starting in the second quarter, and the Carson senior did an exceptional job limiting Wood's touches and held him scoreless in the second quarter. Carson still trailed by double digits, 31-20 after two periods.
"He (Wood) is one of the better players in the league," Mendeguia said. "So much of what they do runs through him. He lets the game come to him. He does everything for them. He gets them in their offense, he scores and he passes the ball. Matt did a good job, especially in that second quarter."
"He's a lot of our offense," Voyles said. "He knows when it's time to take a shot or when it's time to take over a game."
A bright spot for Carson in the second quarter was the play of Charlie Banfield, who scored two baskets and was physical underneath. He did a nice job defensively against E.J. Poulsen and Kirk Gunderson despite giving up a few inches.
Carson, 6-4 in the Sierra League, travels to Reed on Tuesday.