Niederer's free throw with 24 seconds left in the game lifts Carson to dramatic 47-46 win over McQueen

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SPARKS -- Carson High girls basketball coach Paul Croghan figured his team's speed and quickness would influence Wednesday night's game against McQueen. Boy, was he ever right, but probably wished it didn't take so long to materialize.

Terrie Niederer's free throw with 24 seconds remaining capped of an amazing second-half rally as the Senators posted a 47-46 win over the Lancers in the first round of the Northern 4A regional tournament at Spanish Springs.

Carson (18-9) advances to Friday night's semifinal against Reno, the Sierra League champion. Douglas plays Fallon in the other semifinal.

The Senators trailed by as many as 14 in the game, but bounced back from an 11-point halftime deficit thanks to a 10-0 run to start the second half. Katie Kotter's basket with 4:32 left in the third brought Carson to within a point, 30-29, the closest it had been since the game's opening minute. The Senators made 4-of-6 to start the third quarter after an awful first-half shooting performance.

Croghan thought that maybe McQueen's Traci Graham delivered the final blow at the end of the first half, just when Carson seemed to be getting back into the game after trailing 24-10. A pair of Kotter free throws made it 27-18 with seven seconds remaining. Graham sprinted down the court and heaved a prayer that bounced off the glass and in, which could've deflated the Senators' spirit. Kotter, a sophomore, finished with a team-high 14 points.

"We had to be positive," Croghan said of his halftime speech. "They shot the ball extremely well in the first half and we didn't shoot the ball that well. And when you bank in a 30-footer like that, you know things are going your way."

Things, though, quickly changed in the second half. Ciarra Christian's two free throws at the end of the third quarter gave Carson it's first lead of the game, 35-34. The Senators only other lead was the final margin.

Suddenly, it was a tight game, so one would figure the experience of Graham, the Lancers' star point guard, would tilt the edge away from Carson. Obviously, Graham didn't figure Erin Stieber into the equation. The Senators' jitterbug senior guard frustrated Graham in the final quarter, tallying four steals. McQueen committed 10 fourth-quarter turnovers, several in critical late-game situations, the product of relentless pressure by Carson in the second half.

"I think our speed and quickness paid off," said Stieber, who scored all six of her points in the second half. "In the third and fourth quarters, we really picked it up. We never gave up and we kept our composure."

Graham finished with a game-high 24 points, but her scoring output was overshadowed by two turnovers in the final seconds when the Lancers were only a possession away from possibly regaining the lead. Croghan was even a bit surprised.

"But our press was the difference," Croghan said. "We don't like it to be a halfcourt game. The more helter skelter we can make the game, the better it is for us. It was a real team effort, this was a great win. Sometimes a one-point win is better than a 20-point win."

Christian finished with nine points and Talia Joyce added six more. McQueen, which has won four of the past five state titles, finishes the season at 13-11.


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