Carson girls win a pair
The sight of Ciarra Christian on the floor certainly was good news for the Carson High girls basketball team Thursday night - and for more than just one reason.
Knocked out with an injury during a game earlier in the day, Christian returned to score 22 points and help lead a smothering defensive effort as the Senators ran past Fernley 58-31 to close out opening day action of the 23rd annual Carson Girls Basketball Tournament.
It was the second win of the day for the Senators, who defeated Rodriguez (Fairfield, Calif.) 50-45 in an earlier game at Morse Burley Gymnasium. Christian left in the second quarter of that game with an injury that turned out to be a strained ligament on ring finger on her left hand and was ready to go against Fernley.
So were the rest of the Senators.
"I thought we played well," Christian said. "We could have come out stronger at the start, but we started to click and play well as a team there at the end."
Pressure defense was a key because Carson led 25-22 at halftime, but limited Fernley to 11 points after the intermission. Christian was also a back breaker on offense with her four 3-pointers, three of which came in the second half.
"It was good to have her back out there," said Carson coach Alana Williams, whose squad improved its overall season record to 4-1. "Having a 3-point threat always helps, but her defense was also important. She has really picked up her defense from last year."
The defensive effort was vital against a Fernley team (3-2) that features a veteran backcourt with senior Walita Querta and junior Kaylea Dunn. Querta is a fourth-year varsity starter and Dunn has been a starter in each of her three seasons. Querta finished with seven points and Dunn was scoreless.
"They shoot from way out there," Christian said. "One of our coach's goals was to not let them get good looks at the basket out there."
The defensive effort was noticed by Fernley coach Ralph Dunn.
"You always know Alana's teams are going to pressure you all the time," Dunn said. "We had some looks, but they always had a hand in our face."
The Vaqueros only trailed 27-24 after Querta scored on a follow shot with 4:15 left in the third quarter. Christian took a pass from Katie Kotter and buried a 3-pointer moments later, then Kotter converted a steal into a breakaway layup.
Nicole Scott blocked a shot on the defensive end and Tabitha Adams fed Christian for a breakaway layup, then Adams stole the ball and drove for a layup as the Senators extended their lead to 38-26 with 2:10 left in the period.
Adams hit an outside jumper at the outset of the fourth quarter. Then Christian's pressure defense forced a five-second call at mid-court, a play that set up Sarah Johnston's layup off an assist from Emily Johnson, extending Carson's lead to 47-28.
Adams finished with eight points and Andrea Hoff six for the Senators. Becky Murphy and Querta led Fernley with seven points each.
"We need to get better conditioned and get in sync," Dunn said. "We sort of ran out of gas there at the end. We had a tough game earlier against Elko, but you have to give credit to Carson's up tempo game."
Murphy scored 19 points and Querta 15 for the Vaqueros in their 59-47 victory against Elko earlier in the day.
Carson 50, Rodriguez 45
The Senators knocked down six free throws without a miss inside the final three minutes to win their tournament opener against the Rodriguez Mustangs.
Kotter scored 15 points, seven of which came in the first quarter, to lead all scorers for Carson. Hoff also scored 10, including eight in the second half, and Rachel Winters added eight points, including a layup in the final minute.
Carson led 15-6 after one quarter and remained out front the rest of the way, although there were some anxious moments at the end.
Down 36-31 headed into the fourth quarter, Rodriguez cut the deficit to 40-37 when Camani Johnson stole the ball and drove for a basket with 3:11 remaining. Hoff put in a layup and Kotter converted a pair of free throws with 2:28 remaining as Carson extended its lead to 44-38.
Johnston sank both ends of her bonus free throw situation to make it 48-42 with 16 seconds to go. Then after Katie Schlosser put down a 3-pointer for Rodriguez with three seconds showing on the clock, Adams drew a foul on the inbounds pass and sank two free throws to make it 50-45.
The win was a good one against Rodriguez, a team that is 2-4 but has lost three of those games by six points or less.
Aleisha Kelly and Johnson scored nine points each to lead the Mustangs.
Carson has two more games on the tournament schedule today. The Senators play Spring Creek at 2 p.m. and then Elko at 8.
Carson's J.V. team was included in the tournament's 10-team field and came out of the opening day with a 1-1 record. The Senators lost to Churchill County 72-25, then came back to post a 53-30 win over Bishop.
Fourteen players scored in the win over Bishop, led by Sophia Rafael, Samantha Valerius, Kali Williams and Shanni Eng with six points each.
Valerius scored eight points to lead the team in its earlier game. Michelle Beach scored 14 to lead Churchill County.