The biggest crowd of the year packed Morse Burley Gym Tuesday night, and they were treated to arguably the best boys game of the season in Northern Nevada.
Carson and rival Douglas battled for 36 minutes on near-even terms before Alan Cohen followed a Cameron Price miss that barely beat the buzzer to give the first-place Senators a heart-stopping 54-52 overtime victory over the Tigers in a Sierra League showdown.
Carson improved to 7-2, while Douglas fell to 5-3. Carson returns to action Friday at 7 at home against Galena.
This was your typical Carson-Douglas game. It was physical and full of emotion. The biggest lead the entire game was eight points (twice), and it was Douglas on top each time (26-18 and 30-22) in the third quarter.
“That was a pretty good win,” said Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia. “I don’t think I could have taken another overtime. I was getting exhausted.”
“It was a great atmosphere,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “It was a great game. The kids played hard. They are a good team and they played well. I knew we were in for a fight. They always play us tough.”
Both teams had a chance to end the game in regulation.
With Carson leading 45-44 with 4.8 left in regulation, Douglas’ Sam Broersma tied the game at 45 by making the first free throw. He missed the second, however. Carson called a timeout with 2.4 left and set a play up for Price, who missed a 15-footer at the end of regulation. Price had given the Senators the one-point lead when he took a great out-of-bounds pass from Dilyn Rooker and laid it in with 16.5 left.
Carson grabbed a 52-48 in the first 1:52 of overtime, but a basket by James Herrick and a baseline shot by Pat Johnson tied the game at 52 with 1:07 left. Carson worked the clock down to 12.2 and then called timeout. Kyle Steele put up an off-balance shot that failed to draw iron, and the Tigers stopped the clock with 1.8 remaining.
“We were trying to get the ball to Kyle off a double screen,” Mendeguia said. “Sam (Broersma) came out and challenged him, forcing Kyle to throw it up off balance.”
Mendeguia subbed 6-6 Brandon Ruf to contest the inbound pass by Broersma, who threw a pass that hit the rafters, giving the ball back to the Senators with the same 1.8 left.
Rooker got the ball into Price, whose shot hit the backboard and then the rim. Cohen, who was on the weak side, alertly followed the shot in to give CHS the win. A moment later, the CHS fans stormed the court, while Douglas players watched in despair.
“I just went for it,” Cohen said. “I just tried to put it up as fast as I could. I don’t think I’ve had a game-winner (in varsity). It feels really good.”
The last-second shot redeemed Cohen, who had a chance to give Carson a four-point lead in overtime, but missed both free throws.
“Alan was on the weak side, so he just went and got the ball,” Mendeguia said. “I saw one official signal good and then they ran off the floor.”
Thacker said he didn’t have any doubt that the play was good.
“It didn’t come down to the last shot,” Thacker said. “We had a chance to get the rebound and we didn’t block out. Turning the ball over 27 times doesn’t help.”
Carson converted Douglas mistakes into 15 points, which is huge in such a close game.
Steele and Cohen carried the scoring load for the Senators in the second half and overtime. Cohen scored nine of his 11 and Steele, who was hampered by foul problems, had 12 of his game-high 17.
Steele cut Douglas’ lead to 34-32 with four straight points in the middle of the fourth quarter. After A.J. Pfaffenberger gave the Tigers a 37-32 lead, Kyle Denning answered with a trey to make it 37-35. Steele scored four straight points to give CHS a 39-37 lead, Broersma tied it at 39 with 3:20 left.
A three-point play by 6-10 James Herrick gave the Tigers a 42-39 lead with 2:37 left in regulation. Cohen scored four straight points to give Carson a 43-42 lead with 50.1 remaining. The teams traded baskets until Broersma made the first of two free throws to tie the game at 45.