Carson High took a small step backward in its quest to maintain second place in the Sierra League.
The Senators, who battled back from an early 15-point deficit to tie the game, were outscored 31-17 in the final 13 minutes en route to a 62-48 loss to the Reed Raiders in a Division I crossover game Tuesday night before a small crowd at Morse Burley Gym.
Carson, which visits Bishop Manogue at 7 p.m. Friday, dropped to 7-4 and now stands tied with Douglas. Reed improved to 9-2 in the High Desert and took over sole possession of first place thanks to Galena’s win over Spanish Springs. The top two teams in each division host first-round regional games.
“You don’t want to rely on anybody else to get where you need to be,” CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “We need to take care of things ourselves.
“They (Reed) are so athletic. They present match-up problems for us on the perimeter which is why we went zone. It was a game of runs. They are going to give up points. Once we settled down and attacked the game plan (we were OK).”
A 9-4 run, sparked by a nice drive to the basket and 3-pointer by Cameron Price (16 points) and a 3-pointer by Kyle Denning, enabled Carson to tie the game at 31 with 5:54 left in the third quarter.
That surge seemed to shake the Raiders, especially Jamel Ramos, out of their lethargy.
After Trae Carter-Wells (13 points) scored on a nice drive to the basket to snap the tie, Ramos (16 points) knocked in a 3-pointer to make it 36-31. After Kyle Steele (16 points) answered with a trey of his own, Ramos drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 39-34.
The Raiders took a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, and four straight points from Alonzo Vega (13 points) enabled the Raiders to stretch the lead to 45-38 with 6:22 remaining. Carson did cut the lead to 46-41 on two free throws by Steele and one by Asa Carter, but Ramos hit another trey from the left corner to make it 49-41.
Ramos’ emergence (9 second-half points) was pivotal. He had even been pulled from the game by coach Dustin Hall because he wasn’t shooting.
“He’s their leading scorer,” Mendeguia said. “He’s one of the better point guards around. He can penetrate and shoot it from the outside. He’s had 28 (points) a couple of times this year. We knew he could score. Dustin pulled him out for not shooting the ball.”
Hall, after the game, said that Ramos’ hot hand was critical to the Raiders holding off Carson.
“It was big,” Hall said. “He’s the best shooter in the state. He has the green light to shoot when he’s out there. I told him he has to have confidence in his shooting, and don’t stop if he misses a couple.
“When we needed to get some stops we were able to do that.”
Just as big of a match-up problem was Wells, who scored 11 of his 13 in the final 16 minutes. He scored on putbacks and drives to the basket. Carson had no man-to-man answer for him.
The stops Hall alluded to came in the final 2:13 when Carson failed to score. Carson’s only bucket in the last three minutes was a trey by Steele.
Vega and Devin Herbert carried the load for the Raiders early on, combining for 12 of the team’s first 23 points and the 23-8 lead. Carson turned the ball over nine times in that stretch and went 3-for-15 from the floor, an ice-cold 20 percent.
The Senators rebounded nicely in the final 5:25 of the first half, outscoring Reed, 13-4, the rest of the half to make it 27-21 after two periods. The Senators, who got two buckets from Denning in that surge, hit all four of their shots from the floor.
Carson maintained that momentum through the first three minutes of the third quarter before Reed’s offense got untracked.