It may have been Senior Night at Carson High School, but the Reno Huskies were the ones who were opportunistic down the stretch as they rallied for a Sierra League championship-clinching 49-44 victory on Tuesday night.
Kaylan King and Hannah Carlson combined to score 14 points in the fourth quarter and senior Jacy Ceccarelli came up with a big defensive stop in the waning seconds to help Reno (11-0 league, 19-7 overall) pull out the narrow win over Carson (8-3, 18-9) at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
The Senators received solid performances from three seniors playing their final home game - Katie Kotter had 12 points and a team-high five rebounds, Ciarra Christian had 11 points while Tabitha Adams contributed seven points and four steals - it just wasn't enough to deny the Huskies in their bid to achieve a team goal.
"Our goal was to win league, but one of our sub-goals is to go through the league undefeated," said coach Craig Campbell, whose Huskies end their regular season Friday at home against Wooster. "It's only been done once in the last 10 years and that was our team in 2001 when we won state. If we can take care of business Friday, we'll finish 12-0 which would be a tremendous accomplishment because we have lot of respect for Carson, Douglas and all the other teams. This really is a tough league."
The Senators showed improvement from their 58-51 loss at Reno on Jan. 23. The Huskies also rallied from behind in the fourth quarter to win that game.
"I really didn't see a lot of difference in the two teams tonight," Carson coach Alana Williams said. "It's close and getting closer."
One example was turnovers. The Senators only turned the ball over 13 times Tuesday, half as many as they had in the earlier loss against Reno. By comparison, the Huskies turned the ball over 19 times, 13 in the second half.
Carson's zone press helped force five of those turnovers in the final three minutes of the third quarter while Andrea Hoff sank a pair of free throws, Ciarra Christian added two more and Kotter scored on a putback as the Senators took a 36-31 lead.
But Reno answered with a 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter, triggered by back-to-back 3-pointers from King and Carlson. The Huskies suffered a setback early in the period when 6-foot-1 senior forward Cory Nelson left the court after she turned an ankle. Later, 6-2 MacKenzie Butler fouled out, leaving the Huskies in a difficult spot.
""I thought things were slim after Cory got hurt and then MacKenzie fouled out on top of that," Campbell said. "We had five guards out there, but they're veterans who showed a lot of character in that situation."
After Reno extended its lead to 47-44 on two free throws by King with 20.4 seconds left, Christian drove to the basket for Carson. She never got off a shot or draw a foul because Ceccarelli, a three-year varsity veteran who had come in after Butler fouled out, stripped the ball away to ice the win for Reno.
Butler led all scorers with 14 points, Coty Feest added nine and Carlson seven for the Huskies .
In addition to the three seniors, Andrea Hoff scored seven points, while Kelli Weyrick came off the bench to contributed three rebounds and three steals.
"Kelli and Sarah Johnston came in and played great for us," Williams said. "We're playing well right now and we're getting contributions from everyone."
Johnston had a key assist on a 10-foot jumper by Nicole Scott that tied the score at 22-22 late in the first half.