Carson cruised in the first two games of its own tournament at Morse Burley Gymnasium and Paul Croghan wasn't happy about it.
"We need to focus at the start of the game," Croghan said. "We seemed like we had this problem last year. It might not have shown today but if we play like that against other teams, we could be down by 15."
But despite starting the game only 1-of-8 from the field, the Senators forced Rodriguez, Calif., to turn the ball over 39 times in a 63-37 win on Thursday afternoon. Then in their nightcap against Fernley, they began the first quarter only 1-of-9, and even trailed early in the quarter, before winning easily 59-32 in the 22nd annual Carson High Girl's Basketball Tournament.
Carson, though, had too much depth and too much speed for either team to take advantage of its sluggish starts.
The Senators, who are 2-0 in Pool B, play 1A Pyramid Lake today at 2 p.m., then finish pool play with an 8 p.m. game against Elko following the Carson boys game against Foothill of Las Vegas at 6:30 p.m.
The Indians won both of their games on Thursday and assuming they beat Rodriguez, the only winless team in Pool B, today at 4:30, the late game will determine who will play Pool A winner in Saturday's championship game.
"Obviously it's our tournament and we want to play Saturday in the finals," Croghan said. "We're halfway there right now but we got two more games today."
Regardless of who they play, it's clear what the Senators want to do--run.
Carson (4-2) ended both first quarters yesterday on runs that opened the game up and then eventually put teams away in the second quarter. The Senators shot a 46 percent from the field against Rodriguez, mostly because their baskets came off transition play.
The Mustangs' turnover total of 39 was more than their total points scored and also more than their field goal attempts (11-of-32). Eleven different Carson players scored in the game, including Katie Kotter and Bethany Henry, who both scored 10 points.
The score was tied only twice, before the tip off at 0-0 and then 2-2 after Queenie Chatman's basket with 5:36 left in the first quarter. Carson led 28-10 at halftime and 46-21 after the third quarter. Camani Johnson led the Mustangs with eight points.
And just like they did against Rodriguez, a second year school without a senior on its roster, the Senators wore down the Vaqueros with relentless defense and an up tempo pace. And, once again, the box score proved it. Eleven players scored for Carson, led by Kotter's game-high 16 points.
The Senators finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run after trailing 5-4 and led 30-13 at halftime. The Vaqueros, who lost to Elko 41-34 earlier in the day, turned the ball over 19 times and shot only 3-of-20 from the field.
"That's got to be our forte, to play up tempo," Croghan said. "We want the game to be real back and forth and get the ball rolling. Then we get those eight, 10 point spurts and it's not because we're playing exceptionally well but because the other team is trying to catch their breath."
Rosalia Nu-ez opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to put the Senators up 33-15 and Kotter scored six of her 16 in the third. The Senators scored 12 of their 14 points in the fourth quarter off Fernley turnovers. Rachel Henderson led the Vaqueros with 12 points. Andrea Hoff was dominant all game inside to finish with 12 points and Terah Laack scored seven for Carson.
Still, even with all the balanced scoring and swarming defense, Croghan feels the biggest eye opener after the first day of the tournament was his team's slow starts.
"You know, we're playing two games a day but that shouldn't matter because we're playing all the girls," Croghan said. "Fatigue shouldn't be a problem. It's not like we should be out of gas. Katie Kotter gives a lot of energy and hopefully she'll spread that to the other girls."