One last win at home just wasn't in the cards for the Carson High School girls' basketball team on Saturday.
Instead, the Reno Huskies used a third-quarter surge to defeat Carson 49-38 in the Northern 4A zone tournament championship game between familiar rivals at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
Reno (23-7), which trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, outscored Carson 16-2 in the third period and went on to secure its second zone title in the last three years.
Meghann Hackstaff, a fourth-year varsity starter (she transferred from Wooster before the start of this season), scored 13 points and Melissa Padgett, a fourth-year starter at Reno who has already signed with the University of San Diego, scored 12 to lead the Huskies. They combined to score 12 of Reno's 16 points in the third period.
Alyson Thurman led all scorers with 16 points for the Senators, who were bidding to win their first zone championship since 1990.
Carson (28-6) has finished second behind the Huskies in the Northern 4A Division II race each of the last two years, and the two teams were co-champions in 1998. It marked the third straight time Reno has beaten Carson this season, including a 49-44 verdict in Carson City on Jan. 25 when the Huskies erased an eight-point halftime deficit to win.
"This is the second time in a row the third quarter has done us in when we played Reno," said Carson coach Paul Croghan, whose squad took a 25-24 lead to the locker room at halftime. "The last time, we only had one field goal in the second half. We were a little better this time, but there was still a lack of offense on our part."
Reno coach Craig Campbell gave an extended halftime talk - the Huskies returned to the court just two minutes before play was due to resume - addressing the matter of winning.
"I told them at halftime they had to go out and take it because nobody was going to hand the trophy to them," Campbell said.
And yes, there was some mention of defense.
"Our defense was too tentative in the first half, we just weren't asserting ourselves," Campbell said. "Pam (Williams) and Alyson were getting some easy touches, and you can't allow that to happen."
The Senators shot just 1-for-9 from the field during the third period. Their only two points came on Meghan Gradert's putback with 1:03 left, but by that time, the Huskies had built a double-digit lead.
Earlier, Carson had scored eight unanswered points to start the second quarter and take a 21-10 lead. Jina Padilla hit a short jumper off an assist from Williams, and then Williams fed Thurman for a layup to put the Senators on top 17-10. Williams then dropped in a short jumper and Thurman popped in a 10-footer that extended the lead to 11 points with 4:24 showing on the clock.
"I took a time-out, threw in a little press and told them to start attacking the glass more," Campbell said. "I wasn't really concerned at that time, but I did want to see us make a run."
The Huskies came back and made a dent when Jennifer Koch buried 3-pointers on successive possessions.
"Our zone worked fine up until those 3-pointers, and then Melissa went baseline to score again," Croghan recalled. "It seemed our lead went from 11 points to three in a matter of seconds."
Fifty-six seconds, to be exact, before Cara Concha and Hackstaff both went inside to score baskets that put Reno back on top. Carson went up 25-24 before the intermission when point guard Erin Stieber dished to Gradert for a layup.
The good news for the Senators is that they get to come back and play in the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Tournament, which begins on Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
"It would have been nice to win the zone championship, but we want to make a positive out of this. We're going to state, and I know a lot of teams would like to be in our position," Croghan said.
The Senators open against the loser of the Southern 4A Sunset Region final between undefeated Centennial and Cimarron-Memorial, a game that was played Saturday night in Las Vegas.
MCQUEEN 45, GALENA 44
McQueen (18-10) rallied from five points down with less than three minutes remaining to defeat Galena in a battle for the North's No. 3 seed going into the state tournament next week.
Jill Bentley sank two free throws to give the Lancers a 43-42 lead with 1:14 remaining, and then she added two more with 21.1 seconds showing on the clock to supply some needed insurance at the end of a game that saw four lead changes in the fourth quarter. McQueen led 33-29 at the end of three quarters.
Galena (26-6) led 42-37 after Joanna Hixon dished to Kellie Burton underneath for a layup with 2:40 to go.
"This is not the most talented bunch, but they work hard and they never give up," said McQueen coach Nick Brockovich, whose team is the four-time defending state champion.
Galena had its opportunities at the end. Kellie Burton's putback cut the deficit to 45-44 with 6.4 seconds to go and the Grizzlies got the ball right back when Jayleen Chen deflected the ensuing inbounds pass. Galena missed one shot. Then, with 1.9 seconds showing on the clock, the Grizzlies were unable to handle an inbounds pass cleanly and McQueen's Kae Blunt grabbed the ball as time expired.
"We had a shot at the end, and that's all you can ask for," Galena coach Karen Friel said. "McQueen played well, but the bottom line is, we've got to rebound better at both ends of the court and we need to play at our pace."
Burton finished with a game-high 16 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Blunt led McQueen with 12 points, while Michelle Sperry added 11.