When you play deliberate half-court basketball, every possession is huge. You can’t afford to turn the ball over, and you certainly can’t afford a cold streak.
Carson High found that out the hard way in a four-minute stretch of the third quarter after a 49-38 loss to the Grizzlies Friday night at Morse Burley Gym before a disappointed Winterfest crowd. Carson now finds itself tied with Galena at the top of the Sierra League.
Carson and Galena are both 7-2 in Division I play. Damonte Ranch is 6-3 and Douglas is 6-4.
“All night I felt like we weren’t ready to play,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “It’s a coach’s nightmare, playing one of the top teams during Winterfest week. There are tons of distractions during the week.
“Give Galena credit, though, they played tough and took away a lot of what we wanted to do. You’re right, in a game like that every shot and every possession is important.”
Carson simply gave away too many possessions, especially in the final 4:30 of the third quarter when it went from a 20-20 game to a 28-21 Galena lead.
Cameron Price had tied the game at 20 with a layup, and then that’s when things went sour for the Senators.
Carson turned the ball over on six of its next seven possessions (Price went 0-for-2 at the line on the other), and Galena scored six unanswered points for a 26-20 lead. Josiah Wood scored on a layup, Zack Lessinger (17 points) scored inside the paint and then Alex McClellan scored on a layup. After the teams traded turnovers, Asa Carter drained a free throw, but Scott Geerling answered with a nice drive to the basket to make it 28-21 after three.
Price scored 17 seconds into the final quarter to make it 28-23, but two hoops by McClellan and one by Jared Ford made it 34-23 with 5:42. The Senators didn’t know it, but they were done, though they never stopped fighting.
Lessinger scored six straight for Galena in an 80-second span to build the Grizzlies’ lead to 42-29 with 2:53 left. Two 3-pointers by Kyle Steele and one by Kyle Denning cut the lead to 45-38 with 36.4 left. Carson was unable to score again, as Wood made several free throws to close out the game.
Lessinger was a major factor, scoring well despite the extra attention Carson gave him.
“He was in foul trouble the last time we played them,” Mendeguia said. “He’s one of the top post players in the league. We knew what we were up against.”
Until Galena made its run in the third quarter, the game was tied three times (16, 18 and 20), and the biggest lead for either team for the first 20 minutes was five points. Galena was 6-for-15 with six turnovers, while the Senators were 5-for-19 and turned it over five times in the opening 16 minutes.
“I think the first half we weren’t able to finish off good shots,” Galena coach Brian Voyles said. “In the second half we started making some of those that we missed in the first half.
“We’re a very young team. The more experiences we get the better we’re getting. Our roles are getting defined and our rotations are cemented in.”
And, that’s bad news for Division I teams.
NOTES: It was a bittersweet night for Austin Shaffer. He was crowned Winterfest king at halftime, but then suffered an ankle injury in the second half. He was going for X-rays today, and his status for Tuesday’s home game against Reed is doubtful ... Somebody should talk to the schedule maker. Carson has just three Friday night league games at home. Talk about hurting the home attendance ... Carson never led in the second half.