Carson and Fallon girls
There was no need for any motivational speeches Tuesday night because the Carson High School girls basketball team was determined to win its last home game of the season. And if that wasn't enough, the Senators didn't want to see their season end with a loss to Fallon again.
"We knew we didn't want to lose like last year," senior forward Katie Kotter said. "Fallon's a tough team so we knew we were going to have to play 100 percent from buzzer to buzzer."
Kotter delivered a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and the Senators played hard start to finish on their way to a 46-36 victory against Fallon in the opening round of the Northern 4A Regional Tournament at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
Carson (20-9) now advances to the regional semifinals and a 3 p.m. meeting against Reed on Friday at Spanish Springs High School. Reed (24-3) defeated Wooster 69-51 in another first-round game Tuesday.
Memories still lingered from last year, when the Senators saw their season end with a 47-33 loss at home against Fallon in the first round of the regional tournament. Especially for seniors Ciarra Christian, Tabitha Adams and Kotter - all four-year varsity players.
"They definitely wanted to win their last game at Carson," assistant coach Shari Andreasen said. "You could see the senior leadership out there; they really stepped up, but they've done that all season.
"And it wasn't just the three seniors, it was the entire team. Tonight was a team win. It always is with us."
That senior leadership was never more apparent than on two separate plays when the game was still very much in doubt in the second half.
The Greenwave had a chance to pull within three points late in the third quarter when they took a shot that missed. The ball caromed back toward midcourt, where Kotter ran down the rebound, drove down the floor and then scored on a spin move to the basket, giving Carson a 35-28 lead with 1:22 showing on the clock.
Then midway through the fourth quarter, Liz Lewis connected on a 3-pointer to cut Carson's lead to 37-31. Moments later, Lewis came up with a rebound on the defensive end and fed a long pass downcourt to teammate Ashley Sloan for what appeared to be a breakaway layup. Instead, Christian raced downcourt and interrupted the layup attempt enough that the shot glanced off the rim, and Andrea Hoff came down with the rebound for Carson.
The play looked even bigger when Fallon cut the gap to 37-33 as Katarina Olivo banked a shot off the glass with 4:13 remaining to play. But that's as close as it would get because the Greenwave only scored three points the rest of the way - all on a 3-pointer by Lewis.
Fallon only scored 14 points in the second half. Then again, defense was the focus of Carson's game plan, according to Kotter.
"Defense is what gets our offense started," she said. "Everything rolls around defense, and we knew we were going to have to play hard tonight because Fallon's an excellent shooting team.
"Fallon is a tough team. They are probably one of the best defensive teams in the league."
The Senators showed some defense in the first quarter when they took a 12-8 lead, holding Fallon to eight free throws in the process. Meanwhile, Kotter scored 10 of Carson's 12 points, including a putback at the buzzer.
Hoff also played a big role for the Senators, as the 5-foot-11 junior forward contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds. Christian scored nine points on 9-for-12 free throw shooting. Carson shot 22-for-30 from the line as a team.
Led by Kotter and Hoff, the Senators also enjoyed a commanding 42-27 advantage in rebounds.
Lewis scored 10 points to lead Fallon (16-11), a team that ended its High Desert League season by winning five of six games. Sloan also scored seven for the Greenwave.