For 28 minutes, the Carson-Spanish Springs girls basketball game was full of drama like you would expect in any postseason game.
The last four minutes were dominated by Spanish Springs, however, and the Cougars eliminated Carson from the Division I playoffs with a 53-45 victory Wednesday night at Morse Burley Gym.
"The girls gave it all they had,'' Carson coach Nate Tolbert said. "Little mistakes here and there were the difference. I was really happy with the way we played and the effort we gave. We made them earn it this time instead of giving it to them."
"That last little run was the key," Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said. "We got some easy shots. Lanesha (Terrance) was key. She played three minutes or whatever the last time. They didn't have an answer for her tonight. It was a good team effort tonight."
Terrance led all scorers with 22 points, but she wasn't a huge factor down the stretch. Carson had some mental breakdowns defensively, enabling Spanish Springs to score in transition.
The score was tied at 40 after Savannah Smith, who led Carson with 15 points, scored on a nice drive to the basket. Terrance countered to make it 42-40 with 3:53, and the Cougars scored seven of the next nine points to take a 49-42 lead with less than a minute left. Myrissa Prince broke loose for a couple of layups and Hannah Woytek added a basket and free throw.
"She (Terrance) hurt us," Tolbert said. "We didn't have an answer for her. We had a couple of breakdowns defensively. We made a couple of bad decisions, and let people get behind us. Other than that it was a good game."
Carson struggled offensively. going 16 for 47 from the field, and six of those 16 field goals came from Smith and four came from Elena Thurman (11 points). The other six players who saw action managed a total of six field goals.
"Our shots weren't falling at all," Smith said. "A lot of our inside shots just didn't get in."
After Thurman banked in a 3-pointer to give Carson a 33-32 lead after three periods, the Senators relied mostly on Smith in the final period. Smith scored seven straight, including the basket that tied the game at 40.
"Savannah did a good job of getting to the basket," Eckles said. "I thought if we could stay in front of them that would be the key. We wanted to force them to take tough jump shots. I didn't think we rebounded that well, but it was enough."
Each team carved out a three-point lead in the first half. Carson led early 9-6, and Spanish Springs hit four free throws in the final 2:10 of the first half to snap a 17-all tie and walk off the floor with a 20-17 advantage. Terrance was big in the first half with 11 points.
Two buckets by Lyndsey Anderson and one by Terrance enabled the Cougars to grab a 26-21 lead midway through the third quarter. A basket by Smith and a 3-pointer by Natali Salas tied the game at 26. That would be Salas' final contribution, as she was banished from the court by Tolbert for lipping off to the coach after coming off the floor.
Spanish Springs grabbed a 32-28 lead, but Smith's layup and Thurman's 3-pointer made it 33-32 with one quarter left.
The game was tied at 34, 36, 38 and 40 before Spanish Springs took control.
The girls playoffs continue Friday with games at 5 and 7 p.m.