The best thing for Carson this season has been its starters have waited until the second quarter before playing.
"It's really nice to know we (the starters) don't have to to score all the points," said guard Katie Kotter. "Our bench is so strong."
The Senators' reserves picked up the slack in the first four games of the 22nd annual Carson High Girl's Basketball Tournament, then became the reason why Carson won its own tournament since 1998.
Carson's starters fell behind 12-2 in the first quarter in the championship game against Lowry, then saw its bench come in turn and things around as the Senators beat the Buckaroos 48-43 on Saturday afternoon at Morse Burley Gymnasium. "That group we brought off the bench got us out of the hole," said coach Paul Croghan. "That just bodes well for us and the depth we felt we have. It's nice there are 12 bodies who can contribute and that's what they did. We had to preach to them not to get caught up in the starting role. The minutes equal out anyway."
Reserves Terah Laack and Andrea Hoff scored eight and seven points, respectively, as the Senators took their first lead of the game at 20-18 after Kotter's basket with 38 seconds left in the first half. A steal by Kotter and another lay up gave Carson a 22-18 lead. The 5-foot-6 junior, who finished with 11 points, wasn't worried that much about overcoming the 10-point deficit in the first quarter.
"I knew there was enough time to come back but when we were down I was a little shaky on when we would," said Kotter, who made the all-tournament team along with Laack and guard Talia Joyce. "When the bench players came in, they did an awesome job. They stepped up the entire tempo of the game."
The Senators (5-0 tourney record, 6-2 overall) never gave up the lead again and threatened to turn it into a blowout in the third quarter following Joyce's 3-pointer that made it 36-25.
But the Buckaroos, the defending 3A state champs who had already beaten 4A Wooster in the tournament, came back. Mackenzie Swecker knocked down a trey and Jessica Bishop had another basket that cut Carson's lead to seven, 43-36, with just over three minutes to play.
Croghan then called a timeout and calmed his team down, then saw them go back up by 11 points, 47-36, after a Kotter basket that sealed the victory, giving the Senators' their first tourney win since beating Lowry '98 final.
Even though the slow start again turned out in his favor, Croghan still would like to see his team play hard for all four quarters.
"That's a scary thing against a team of their caliber," Croghan said of spotting that big lead early to Lowry. "They're state champions and are experienced and I'm sure they will be in the mix again this year. It's great to win our own tournament. It's nice to go out on a winning note."
Swecker scored 14 points to lead the Buckaroos, who finished 4-1 in the tournament. Lindsey Swenson had 10 and Bishop added eight more for Lowry. Both Swecker and Bishop made the all-tournament team along with the Carson trio.
In other tournament games, Brianne McGowan scored 19 and Maggie Lazzari had 10 in Wooster's 42-22 win over Elko in the consolation final. Arena Tapija scored 25 and Jennifer Villarin scored 22 in Pyramid Lake's 58-51 win over Armijo in the 5th-6th place game.
Walita Querta and Lysana Davis both scored 15 points in Fernley's 50-46 win over Spring Creek in the 7th-8th place game. Aliciea Kelly scored 14 points as Rodriguez avoided going winless in the tournament with its 42-16 win over South Tahoe in the 9th-10th place game.
McGowan and Querta made the all-tournament team, as did Armijo's Kisha Gaines and Spring Creek's Cisca Moore.