SPARKS - It seemed as if the Carson boys basketball team were playing a bunch of elementary kids in its consolation round game on Friday night in the Rail City Holiday Tournament at Reed High. Not physically but mentally.
Hiram Johnson, an inner-city school from Sacramento, Calif., had only one thing to rely on against the Senators and that was athleticism. But the Warriors had an obvious detriment and that was lack of discipline, which eventually proved to be the difference as Carson pulled out a 72-63 win over the Warriors.
With the win, the Senators (10-3) play at 3 p.m. today in the tournament's 5th-6th place game against Reed High. The Raiders beat Century (Santa Ana, Calif.) 48-38 on Friday to set up the rematch with Carson, which has already beaten Reed this season, 48-33.
Hiram Johnson coach Rob Richards, though, didn't have much control over the outcome of Friday's game. At times, his players would plead with Richards to make sure they got the ball and then yell at him if they didn't. Then at times, Richards would give instruction from the sidelines, only to be yelled at by players if they disagreed with his advice. During timeouts, his players seemed more interested with who was walking in and out of the gym rather than what he was saying. However, when they were focused, they were a dangerous team.
"They (Hiram Johnson) are always an athletic team," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. "But I knew if we did the little things well against them, then we would be all right."
In both halves, Carson built sizable leads only to see the Warriors come right back. In the first half, the Senators went up 22-16 before Hiram Johnson closed the gap to 24-22. Carson then went on a 13-2 run to take a 37-24 half-time lead.
Then in third quarter, the Warriors made 12 of their 16 shots in the quarter to cut the Senators half-time lead to seven points, 55-48.
"They went hot in the second half and we went cold," Barnes said. "But that happens sometimes when you play as fast as we did in the first half, then try and slow it down in the second half."
In the fourth quarter, Kavin Young's lay-up with 4:22 left in the game brought the Warriors to within 60-58. But Cody Longero converted on a three-point play to put Carson back up 63-58. Theo White's lay-up with under three minutes to play made it 63-60. But Hiram Johnson just didn't have an answer for Longero down low, who scored five of Carson's final nine points down the stretch. The Senators finished the game on a 9-0 run. Longero led all scorers with 27 points and Vinnie Reymus had 14.
Hiram Johnson was led by Alfonso Davila, who had 18 and Brandon Haley, who had 17. A flurry of Warrior points in the second half came off second-chance points because Carson, at times, didn't box out underneath the basket. But that was about the only thing Barnes was upset about after the game.
"We knew they were bigger than us but we did a good job of boxing out in the first half," Barnes said. "But in the second, they were able to get offensive rebounds because we didn't box out. Kids learn how to block out in the second grade and with league games coming up, if we don't start, we're going to lose some games."
But the only thing that resembled second-graders in the this game was Hiram Johnson, which fell to 9-6.