Carson coach Bruce Barnes said he doesn't have a memory when it comes to past games. Good thing his players do, though.
The Senators, still smarting from two losses to rival Douglas last season, took out their lingering frustrations against the Tigers on Tuesday. Ryan Buttner and Vince Inglima led the way, combining for 42 points, as Carson stayed undefeated in the Sierra League with its 70-62 win over Douglas at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
"I love beating Douglas, especially since what happened last season," said Buttner, who scored 17 points. "I remember that feeling of walking off the court after last year's game at Douglas, that's all I was thinking about (coming into the game)."
That much as evident in the second quarter, when Buttner exploded for nine of his points. The Senators (14-6 overall, 3-0 league) opened up a 28-18 lead after an Inglima basket with 4:45 left before halftime. But Douglas (4-11, 0-3) went on an 11-3 run, mostly because of Will Thomas and Erik Olson. Carson led 33-31 at halftime while Olson and Thomas combined for 25 of the Tigers' 31 points in the first half.
"I think Thomas and Olson are very big players," Barnes said. "That's who we were preparing for."
Barnes may have been applauding the two Douglas stars after the game, but he definitely wasn't happy about giving up a 10-point first-half lead in just over two minutes.
"At halftime, Barnes kind of ripped us a little bit and told us to pick it up defensively because when we pick it up on defense, it just helps our offense," Buttner said.
Barnes halftime speech must have worked as Carson outscored Douglas 16-9 in the third quarter, nearly regaining its 10-point lead from the first half. The only thing different with this spurt was that the Senators weren't giving it up.
"It's Douglas, so you never know what's going to happen, but we felt that once we got ahead (in the second half), we knew we pretty much had it," Buttner said.
Buttner's 3-pointer with 3:30 left in the game put the Senators up 62-46. Then Barnes emptied his bench after Adam McKenzie's free throw extended Carson's lead to 17 points, 69-52, its biggest of the game.
The Tigers ended the game on a 10-1 run. Thomas scored a team-high 21 points and Olson added 19. Only six Tigers made field goals in the game.
"We played better defense in the second half and that helped our offense," Barnes said of his team, who shot 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second half. "I think that we executed better down the stretch. If we're patient, we can get big leads and expand leads. I think in the second half we were patient and willing to wait and the let the shots come. In the first half, we didn't do that."
Inglima led all scorers with 25 points while McKenzie also scored in double figures for the Senators, finishing with 12. Ryan Henry added seven.
Barnes was obviously pleased with a win over Douglas, but insisted that losing twice last year to the Tigers never entered his mind.
"The kids remember last year. But for me, I didn't think too much about it," Barnes said. "As a coach, you get over losses from last year real quick."
On Friday night, the Senators play Wooster at 7 p.m. in Reno. Led by guard Julian Hatcher and 6-foot-6 forward J.J. Milan, the Colts (6-6, 1-0) could spoil Carson's early undefeated run in the Sierra League.
"They got Hatcher, who I think is one of the best guards in the league," Barnes said. "They've already beaten Reno, something we haven't done. So if we sleepwalk in there, they can get us."