When the Carson High girls basketball team opens the Northern 4A regional playoffs today against McQueen, coach Paul Croghan knows his team is going up against more than just the Lancers. The Senators will also be battling mystique and tradition, two intangibles that always seem to influence postseason games.
"Well, it's McQueen, they got great tradition," Croghan said of McQueen, which won four-straight state titles from 1996-99. "I expect them to them to come out with all guns a blazing."
The Lancers (13-10) finished second in the High Desert League behind regular season champion Fallon. They finished with an 9-3 league record, identical to Carson, which ended up as the Sierra League's No. 3 seed following a season-ending loss to rival Douglas.
"They got Traci Graham and Cristi Crofts, they are the heart of the team," Croghan said. "Those two should shoulder the load for them. We know we have to defend those two girls."
Graham is averaging 16.3 ppg, second most in the Northern 4A behind Wooster's Brianne McGowan. Croghan figures stop those two--or even one of them--and the Senators (17-9) have a good chance to upend the Lancers. Even if both Graham and Crofts have solid games, Croghan thinks Carson's depth and quickness will be a factor.
"We want to make someone else other than those two girls beat us," Croghan said. "We have more diversity (than McQueen), we don't have one or two players they can key on. We'll have one or two players step up for us, but they won't know who they are because I won't even know. It's always somebody different for us. Our depth should be to our advantage."
Erin Stieber and Megan Anderson are the only two seniors on Carson's roster and the Senators rely heavily on three sophomores, who experienced growing pains last season as freshman. Really, though, Katie Kotter, Tabitha Adams and Ciarra Christian are all essentially juniors because they've logged so much playing time the past two seasons, which should prove invaluable in a one-and-done situation like zone.
"It's an all a new season, everybody's 0-0," Croghan said. "It remains to be seen who's the favorite. It's all going to depend who shows up at show time. We've been a little inconsistent lately, but hopefully we'll start to play more consistent at the right time."
That would be now.
In other first round games, Douglas (21-5) takes on defending zone champion Galena (16-10) at 4:40 p.m., immediately after the Carson-McQueen game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sierra League champion Reno (18-7) will play Elko (19-10) and Wooster (11-16) plays Fallon (17-3) in the nightcap. All games are at Spanish Springs High in Sparks.
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