RENO - All things considered, the final outcome probably shouldn't come as any big surprise.
A young and inexperienced Carson High girls basketball squad, minus standout post player Nicole Scott, simply came up short in its season-opening 52-30 defeat against the veteran Galena Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
Seniors Micheon Aguilar and Caitlin Anderson scored 12 and 11 points respectively to lead the Grizzlies in a matchup between teams that qualified for the Northern 4A Regional Tournament last February.
For first-year Carson girls coach Ric Garcia, the final score wasn't what he had hoped for, but he wasn't discouraged afterward.
"We had two weeks to prepare for this game, which is not a lot of time," said Garcia, who was only named head coach of the program in late October after Alana Williams stepped down. "We've been trying to put a lot in and obviously we're not where we want to be yet. Galena is one of the better teams in the North, too. We already knew that. They have the senior leadership, they have the guards and they have a Division I center."
The Division I center is 5-foot-9 Anderson, who has signed to play at Weber State. The three-time All-Northern 4A player gave a solid performance that included 10 rebounds and five assists to go with her 11 points. Fans missed an opportunity to watch two of the North's top post players face off because Carson's 6-foot-2 Scott watched the game with a clipboard on the bench as she recovers from a lingering ankle injury sustained at the end of volleyball season.
"She's tough to stop," Galena coach Karen Friel said. That's a big girl you don't have to worry about. I mean, with her out there, that changes your whole defense."
Garcia was more low-key in assessing the absence of Scott, an Eastern Washington-signee who is expected to play when the Senators play their home opener against Reed next Tuesday.
"That's just one person, granted, a big person," he said. "We have a lot of fixing to do, but everything I saw is correctable. We think, give us another month and we'll be a good ball club."
The first step will be taken at practice today - when conditioning will be addressed.
"I told the kids, 'Bring your running shoes tomorrow.' It's not punishment. We just have to get in shape fast," he said. "They (Galena) were in much better condition than we were tonight. We were able to keep pace early and then our conditioning really began to show. And then our inexperience began to creep in because they were able to pressure us."
Galena's pressure defense paid dividends during a 9-0 run at the end of the first quarter. Aguilar nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, assisted by Anderson, to give the Grizzlies an 8-6 lead. They finished with three quick scores in the final 32 seconds when Colleen Kern scored in transition off an assist from Megan Molinari; then Molinari drove for another transition layup, assisted by Caitlin Crofts; and Amy Scott fed an inside pass to Anderson for a buzzer-beating layup to give Galena a 14-6 lead.
Carson came to life in the second quarter, scoring 16 of their 30 points. Sarah Evans scored two quick baskets early in the period, both assisted by Megan Kilty. Kaitlin Burroughs took a pass from Evans and buried a 3-pointer from the left side to cut Galena's lead to 26-19 and then Evans fed Burroughs for an arching 3-pointer from the left side at the buzzer to make it 30-22.
The Senators never got any closer, as Aguilar took a pass from Langley Iverson and buried a 3-pointer to start the third quarter. As it turned out, the Grizzlies outscored the Senators 14-4 in the third period.
"This group has been together a long time," Friel said. "I liked the way they played. I liked the uptempo game and their pressure defense."
Evans and Burroughs finished as Carson's scoring leaders with seven points each.
Note: Galena has eight seniors listed on its roster and is missing two-year starter Dominique Pavich, who sustained an ACL injury that will keep her out for the entire season. Pavich injured the same knee that sidelined her as a freshman in 2002-03.
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