SPARKS -- One thing's for sure, the Carson High girls basketball team didn't make things easy for itself in the Northern 4A Regional Tournament.
First, it falls behind by double digits to McQueen, a three-time state champion. After an amazing second half comeback, the Senators win 47-46.
Next up then is Reno, the defending state champion, which has already beaten Carson twice this season. Even worse, Katie Kotter, the team's leading scorer, fouls out early in the second half. Things didn't look good for the Senators to say the least.
The Huskies were then introduced to Terrie Niederer and Ciarra Christian. The pair became instant stars against Reno. Christian scored six of her game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Senators posted their biggest win in the Paul Croghan era, 48-40 over the Huskies on Friday night at Spanish Springs.
"In the six years I've been here, this is the biggest one we've had," Croghan said. "We beat a great team. This the sweetest win I've had."
The win moves Carson into the zone championship game against rival Douglas, which shocked High Desert League champion Fallon in the other semifinal, 45-43. Both teams will be the North's only two representatives at next week's state tournament at Lawlor Events Center.
"Going to play in state at Lawlor is a neat thing for high school kids," Croghan said. "But I wouldn't mind winning a zone championship, putting that trophy on my desk."
Neither would Christian, who stepped up huge against Reno. She continuously broke down the Husky press in the fourth quarter when the Senators were trying to pull away. Niederer chipped in with 11 points and was the defensive presence down low Carson needed to match Reno's height. In the last game between the two teams, Reno outrebounded Carson 36-22 en route to a 56-40 win.
"I wasn't going to let the same team beat us three times (in one season)," said Christian, a sophomore. "I knew the whole game I wanted to play well."
The Huskies started the second half on an 8-0 run to go up 21-17, giving them their first lead of the game. After that, it went back and forth. There were eight lead changes and seven ties in the second half, But Christian's 3-pointer with the game tied 37-37 put Carson ahead for good. the Senators ended the game on an 11-3 run.
"Third time's a charm, we wanted to earn some respect," Croghan said. "The girls were talking about it all day. I told them this was their chance to go out and earn it."
That's what Carson did as the Senators controlled most of the first half, holding six-point leads twice before going up 17-13 at halftime. Reno turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and if it wasn't for a 7-for-25 shooting performance by the Senators in the first half, they could've led by much more. Kotter picked up her third and fourth fouls in the second quarter when she was called for a personal foul and a technical on the same play. Now it was up to somebody else to pick up the scoring. It turned out, several players did.
"That's how it's been all season for us," Croghan said. "Every night it's somebody different. Defensively, it makes a coaching nightmare for the other coach."
Erin Stieber finished with nine points and Tabitha Adams added six more. Reno's Elizabeth Fox led her team with 12 points. No other Husky scored in double figures.