SPARKS - Even under normal circumstances, trying to contain the high octane Garfield Bulldogs was going to be a formidable assignment for the Carson High School boys basketball team on Thursday afternoon.
The Bulldogs from Seattle came out and played far from normal, as it turned out, because they erupted to score 35 first-quarter points on their way to an 82-62 victory against the Senators in second-round play of the Nugget/Rail City Classic at Sparks High School.
Faced with a Carson defensive scheme that focused on the inside, Garfield came out and shot 5-for-5 from beyond the 3-point in the first quarter to take a 35-14 lead in the quarterfinal contest of the 16-team tournament. Marcelus Kemp scored 15 points in the first quarter, including three treys, as the Bulldogs (5-1) showed why they are regarded as one of the best Class 4A teams in the state of Washington.
"That's as good a ball club as we've played this year," said Carson coach Bruce Barnes, whose club dropped to 9-3 this season. "They came out and shot the lights out in the first quarter. They hit those 3's; they're so much bigger, we had to give up something and we chose to give that up, and it backfired a little bit.
"It's tough to beat when they have perimeter and a 6-9 guy in the middle. They're just a very good basketball team."
Six-foot-9 Anthony Washington is a force in the middle for the Bulldogs, and the University of Washington-bound post player did score 10 points and block five shots. However, Kemp, a 6-3 junior guard, 6-2 senior point guard Will Conroy and 6-5 senior forward Brandon Roy were the ones who did most of the early damage in this game.
Jeff Young took a Cody Longero pass in the key and hit a twisting jumper to give Carson a 2-0 lead that lasted exactly 20 seconds. Conroy brought the ball down and fed Kemp for a 3-point bomb, then Roy picked off the inbounds pass and laid in a basket to put the Bulldogs on top 5-2. After Roy drove for another layup, Conroy stole the ball at midcourt and drove down for a dunk to make it 9-2.
Kemp finished the contest with 28 points and five assists. Conroy had 15 points, seven assists and four steals. And Roy scored 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half.
"They're a very good team," Carson senior guard Jeff Young said. "It's fun seeing all the things they can do, but at the same time, you want to do the best you can and see if you can be better."
The Bulldogs, who stood as Washington's top-ranked 4A team before they lost an 84-83 overtime verdict to Rainier Beach a week ago, found their 3-point touch against the Senators.
"We're coming along," Garfield coach Wayne Floyd said. "That's the best we've shot this season from the 3-point line and if we're making that, it's definitely going to be tough to beat us."
Carson's Vinnie Reymus demonstrated a nice touch himself, as the senior guard knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. Cody Longero had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Vince Inglima scored a season-high 14 points, seven in the fourth quarter, to go with six rebounds and three assists.
"Our effort was there, that's what I was pleased about," Barnes said. "When you get down like that, sometimes teams have a tendency to quit and they didn't have any quit in them. They battled for 32 minutes, which I was proud of."
One example came after Garfield went up by 29 points its biggest lead of the game; Longero was twice rejected underneath, but the Senators' 6-3 post man stayed with the ball and made good on his third shot.
The Senators still trailed 72-44 at the end of three quarters, but managed to cut the gap to 16 points after Inglima converted a pair of free throws with 2:56 left to play.
The Senators resume play in the Rail City Classic today in a 3 p.m. contest at Reed High School against either Hiram Johnson (Sacramento) or Grandview (Colo.).