Carson girls run past Vaqueros

There is one guarantee when the Carson High School girls basketball team takes the floor - the Senators won't stand still for any length of time.

The Senators started fast and never looked back on Thursday night, running to a 53-31 opening-round victory against Fernley in the 20th annual Carson Invitational.

Katie Kotter scored 11 points and junior Erin Stieber added 10 points and six assists to lead a balanced attack as the Senators (4-1) won a battle between teams that favor an up tempo brand of basketball at Morse Burley Gymnasium.

Up tempo is the name of the game for these Senators.

"Our emphasis this year is really speed," said senior forward Meghan Gradert, who scored seven points and was strong under the glass. "We're a young team, but we're really fast. We're a lot faster than we've been in past years. Every game we try to move up and down the court to try and make up for our lack of size."

The Senators used their speed to score 11 unanswered points over a span of three minutes midway through the first quarter.

Stieber took a pass from Meghan Gradert and drove for a layup to start the run. Kotter tuned a steal into a layup, then the freshman knocked down a 15-foot jumper and she followed that with a 3-pointer from the right side off an assist from Talia Joyce. Stieber drove into the lane and banked in a jumper to give the Senators a 16-2 lead with 1:41 left in the period.

"The kids ran the break, they made some good passes on the transition and got us some easy baskets in that first quarter run," Carson coach Paul Croghan said. "That's what we need to do. We don't want to play anybody any more halfcourt defense than we have to. If we can get a score off a steal on the press, that's the way we need to play."

Carson freshman Ciarra Christian contributed seven points, including a 3-pointer, and Amanda Hoff added six points, all during a 1:12 span midway through the second quarter when the Senators extended their lead to 29-6.

Beforehand, first-year Fernley coach Ralph Dunn felt the game would be a good matchup because the Class 3A Vaqueros prefer an up tempo style themselves.

"I like to play the tough competition like Carson, and they put on a good showing," said Dunn, a 1978 Fernley graduate. "They were fast, but we seemed sluggish. They outhustled us; our girls seemed like they were intimidated. We just need to work on a whole lot of things."

Freshman Kaylea Dunn led Fernley with eight points, six of which came in the third quarter. Rachel Henderson and Carly Rogers also scored six each for the Vaqueros.

Carson faces unbeaten Lowry in the tournament semifinals tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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