Carson freshman center Danielle Peacon and sophomore guard Brandi Vega may be the yin and yang of each other physically - Peacon is 6-foot and Vega is 5-foot-3 - but together they strike a nice balance for the Lady Senators.
The pair combined for 31 points on Friday as Carson took a 54-41 victory over Sierra League rival North Valleys at Morse Burley Gym in Carson High School.
The win improved Carson's record to 16-3 overall and 5-3 in league, where it remained in a first-place tie with Reno. North Valleys fell to 3-2, 8-11.
Peacon sprained her ankle Tuesday in a win against Douglas and made her return with 15 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
"I think she's about 80 percent," Carson coach Ric Garcia said of Peacon. "She was taped up solid. She was a little ginger - it was affecting her shot underneath there. She was a little off-balance. I thought she'd be out for a whole week. Our trainer did a good job on her."
Although her bread and butter has been in the post this season, Peacon showed a good touch from beyond the paint with several of her baskets, including a 17-footer that put Carson up 47-32 with 4 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the game, and a 15-footer that gave the Senators its largest lead of the game at 51-34 with 3:20 to go.
"She's a hard matchup," Garcia said. "She can take you outside."
After scoring her only other two points in the first quarter, Peacon looked to grow more confident as her playing time increased later in the game.
"I'm doing better," Peacon said. "I try not to let (the ankle) get to me. I play the same game I always do. Most of it was my point guard -little Brandi (Vega). She finds me inside somehow."
The diminutive Vega once again played the part of a big pest, coming up with quick steals, dribbling like Curly Neal and taking a flop when necessary. Vega had seven second-quarter points - the last two coming on a coast-to-coast layup which gave Carson a 24-15 lead with 4:25 to go.
"She was exceptional," Garcia said of Vega. "She and Megan (Kilty) both just caused havoc. We were working our press and trying to be more aggressive and attacking more."
But while she looked every bit the calm but active general on the court, Vega said she was concerned about Peacon.
"I was kinda scared for her today," Vega said. "But she looked good in practice yesterday. She did great. I'm proud of her. She kept her head up."
Vega started as a freshman for the varsity team last year and maintained her composure. Peacon has followed suit this season, although she admitted to feeling a bit of pressure at first.
"At the beginning I did, but mostly the seniors and Abby (Rankl) said, 'It's all right, you got it.' With little Brandi on my side, she keeps me going. It doesn't matter if you're a freshman or not."
Kilty - another of Carson's gadfly guards - scored all seven of her points in the first quarter as the Senators held a 15-8 lead until Emma Finlay's 3-pointer at the buzzer left Carson with a 15-11 advantage going into the second quarter.
After Sarah Finlay scored another basket to cut the lead to 15-13, Carson went on a 6-0 run, fueled by a pair of Vega layups. Later on, after North Valleys coach Pat Murphy was hit with a technical foul, Vega converted one of her two free throws to give the Senators a 28-15 lead.
North Valleys whittled the lead to 28-20 at the half. Sarah Finlay's 15-foot jumper would cut the lead to 30-24 in the third, but that was as close as North Valleys would get the rest of the way.
Sarah Finlay scored a team-high 13 points for the Panthers, who also got nine points from Mallorie Cecchi.
"It was a big win," Garcia said. "It puts a little distance between us and them. The first half (of the season) is all about creating distance."When the topic of the Reno Huskies came up - Carson will face Reno on Tuesday - Garcia emphasized he's not looking that far ahead, given the fact that his team will travel to South Lake Tahoe to face the Lady Vikings today.
"It's about South Tahoe - one game at a time," Garcia said. "I literally tell them, 'One game at a time.' South Tahoe at South Tahoe is a tough game. I thought our defense didn't play up to par. We gave up too many layups. But I thought we played hard and everyone worked hard."
Vega said getting past North Valleys was a big deal.
"It was an important game," she said. "We've got to hold our position in the standings and try to defeat everyone in the first half (of the season)."
So far, so good. Vega said she attributed Carson's strong start to chemistry and practice.
"We just get along really good," Vega said. "We've bonded really well. We've been playing basketball the way we should be. We still have a ways to go, though. We're getting better and better.
"In practice every day, we work on ball drills. We're working on getting back on defense, then getting back on offense for the fast break. We're working together well."
Carson-South Tahoe begins today at 3:15 p.m., at South Tahoe High School.