MINDEN -- In a matchup between teams that stand in stark contrast to each other, aggressiveness and momentum were decisive for the Carson and Merced high school boys basketball teams Thursday afternoon.
The Carson Senators, with only one player on the court who stood as tall as 6-foot-3, had it in the first half. But the taller Merced Bears from central California took it back in the second half on their way to a 61-52 victory in the first round of Douglas High School's second annual Carson Valley Classic.
Andy Siverly, a 6-5 senior, scored 16 points and 6-6 junior added 15 to help Merced (2-1) rally from a nine-point halftime deficit and spoil Carson's season opener.
"We're so small, we need gimmicks and we need to fly around if we want to be successful," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. "I thought we were able to do that for 27 minutes, but they're (Merced) a good team."
The game turned on a 14-2 run over the last six minutes of the third quarter as Merced charged back from a 40-31 deficit. Siverly scored on a layup and putback, then Chris Farmer converted a steal into a layup to put the Bears on top at the end of the quarter, 47-42.
"We began to attack the basket in the second half and that was crucial," Merced assistant coach Marcus Knott said.
"We played passive in the first half, we weren't aggressive, but give Carson credit because they brought it to us. We weren't expecting that, and their little matchup zone caused us some problems."
Meanwhile, the Senators turned the ball over eight times and were limited to one field goal by Ryan Henry over the final six minutes of the period. They were further plagued when guards Ricky Correlli and Gary Borst ran into foul trouble.
"When they got into foul trouble, they had to start sitting, so they were sitting and we couldn't recover," Barnes said. "Being seniors as well as our starting guards, we can get along with one of them out, but not both of them."
Correlli led all scorers with 22 points before he fouled out with 47 seconds left to play. He also contributed five rebounds and four steals.
Correlli turned a steal into a layup, then drove into the key and hit a jumper as the Senators regained the lead, 52-51, with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter. It would be their last lead, and their last points.
Farmer, a three-year starter and all-league performer last season, sank two free throws to put Merced back on top. Farmer then came up with a steal on the defensive end which led to Wiens scoring on a putback to make it 55-52 with 2:19 to go.
Ed Jaquette scored 16 points for Carson, 13 in the first half, and Henry finished with 12. Correlli, who scored 17 in the first half, and Jaquette knocked down 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Senators surged to a 31-21 lead.
"We had to do some things we normally wouldn't do, like play zone," Barnes said. "But they're so big. They had two 6-6 guys out there, so they would have killed us in man. But, we've got to learn how to play big teams because we're going to see a lot of that up here when league comes around.
"We're going to be playing against some tough teams and hopefully that is going to pay off for us."
The Senators face Fallon in a tournament consolation bracket game today at 3:30.