RENO — Carson High already knew it was in for a tough game on Friday, and that was before ankle injuries to Kyle Denning and Cameron Price.
Both suited up, but neither played, and that was a big factor in Carson’s 50-43 loss to Damonte Ranch in a Sierra League battle.
Carson dropped to 9-4 overall and 3-2 in league play, while Damonte improved to 4-1 in league play. Carson returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Wooster.
“We knew coming in they would be tough,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “We’ve dealt with adversity all year long. Other guys have to come in and step up. The guys coming off the bench played hard. That will only help us down the road.”
Carson got nine points from Austin Shaffer, who was pressed into a starting role because of the injury to Denning, and sophomore Ian Schulz added eight points off the bench.
Mendeguia was happy with his defense, but unhappy with his team’s rebounding and offensive execution.
“We wanted to control the tempo,” Mendeguia said. “Certainly having two guys out that are major players hurts. We didn’t do a good job on the glass. There was one sequence when they got three offensive rebounds. You aren’t going to win on the road if you give teams second chances. We wanted to keep the game in the 50s, and we were able to do that. We were just out of sync offensively.”
Carson, unofficially, shot just 35 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 13 times which led to 11 Damonte Ranch points.
The Senators led or were tied for the first 14 minutes and 9 seconds of the game. Four straight points by Damonte’s Tyler Young wiped out what was once a seven-point lead and gave the Mustangs a 24-22 at the half.
Damonte never lost that lead, though the teams were never separated by more than seven points in the final 16 minutes.
A big sequence came in the final period.
Carson had just trimmed Damonte’s lead to 42-39 with 3:55 remaining thanks to a pair of free throws by Schulz and one by Alan Cohen. On their next possession, the Mustangs missed three straight shots.
Carson finally collected a rebound, but Young alertly tipped the ball away and David Nicholas recovered it and was fouled. Nicholas drained one of two free shots to make it 43-39. Cohen missed from close range on the ensuing possession, and Francis Francisco added one of two from the line for a 44-39 lead with 3:15 left. The Mustangs converted another Cohen misfire into a basket by Kyle Daugherty (16 points) for a 46-39 lead with 1:50 remaining.
At that point, Carson was forced to foul, and Grant and Brett Cooper made two free throws apiece in the final 35 seconds.
“It was a tough game and I expected that,” Damonte coach Torrey Sheets said. “Carson is a tough team, and executes really well.”
Besides the contributions of Shaffer and Schulz, it was nice to see Cohen be a little more aggressively offensively.
Knowing he would be needed to pick up the slack for Denning and Price, the 6-foot-3 senior scored Carson’s first five points and finished with six of his nine in the opening 16 minutes. He missed five of six attempts in the second half, as Young, Nicholas and Daugherty caused some problems inside with their length. Cohen will have to be a force throughout upcoming games if Denning and Price are unable to come back right away. Ditto for Shaffer, who is more known for his defense and floor play.
The game was tied four different times — 7, 15, 18 and 20-all — in the first half.