Carson-Galena girls in semifinals

Two previous meetings have resulted in a split for the Carson and Galena high school girls basketball teams.

However, the stakes will be considerably higher tonight when the two rivals square off again in the Northern 4A zone tournament semifinals at Carson High School. A 6:10 p.m. tipoff is scheduled at Morse Burley Gymnasium.

The game will feature two teams that have ranked as Northern 4A front-runners all season.

Galena (26-4) is coming off a 64-35 opening-round win against Wooster on Wednesday and bidding to reach the zone finals for the second year in a row. Carson (27-5) was equally impressive in its 71-38 zone-opening win against Lowry on Wednesday, and now hopes to end a four-year losing streak in zone tournament competition.

As a matter of trivia, the Senators have finished fourth at zone in each of the last four years - three straight since Paul Croghan took over as head coach in 1997.

"Obviously, we want to change that," Croghan said with a smile. "I think any of the four teams left could win it all. There isn't any one dominant team like McQueen was last year, so I expect every game from here on to be a real battle."

McQueen, the four-time defending 4A state tournament champion, faces Reno, the 1998 zone champion, in the other girls semifinal at 3 p.m. today.

Carson and Galena played each other twice in December. Galena was a 49-46 victor at Carson on Dec. 14. And the Senators prevailed 50-41 in the rematch at McQueen's State Farm Classic two weeks later.

The Senators are looking forward to the third time around.

"I think we match up fairly well with them," Croghan said. "I think we'll get a crowd,and I look for a very good game."

What will be the key for Carson?

"If we play the way we did tonight, I think we'll be in good shape," Croghan said, reflecting on Carson's Wednesday night performance against Lowry. "It's going to be a matter of taking care of the ball, playing good defense and rebounding."

Galena coach Karen Friel said her team has to find a way to stop Carson's "Big Two" - Alyson Thurman and Pam Williams.

"Obviously, that's the biggest concern every time you face them," she said after Wednesday's game. "We've gotta stop them if we want to win."

Friel said revenge isn't a factor even though the Senators beat her team early in the year.

"We just want to win," she said. "This is a strong tournament, so to keep going and win it would be great."


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