BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO-After having maybe their finest first quarter of the season and later overcoming a four-point deficit to tie the game with 11 seconds to go, the Carson girls basketball team saw its slim playoff hopes and its game with Damonte Ranch slip away.
The Mustangs improved to 4-7 in the Sierra League and 9-14 overall, taking a 52-49 win over the Senators Friday at Damonte Ranch High School.
Carson, which has scrapped all year after returning only three players with varsity experience - senior Christy Works, sophomore Gina Bianchi and junior Cassie Vondrak - slipped to 1-10 in league and 4-22 overall.
The Senators could do no wrong in the first quarter, outscoring the Mustangs 13-3.
"That killed us," Damonte Ranch coach Debbie Hellen said. "It seemed like we always have one of those quarters. It comes with youth. We need to get over being young."
They may not have gotten over being young, but beginning in the second quarter, the Mustangs chopped into a 15-3 Carson lead to trail 27-24 at halftime.
Senior Courtney Kollasch scored eight of her team-high 21 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, and freshman Erin Hatch scored eight of her 20 points in the period.
"In the second quarter we started putting the ball in the basket - we had 21 points in the second quarter, which helped out tremendously," Hellen said. "We started getting rebounds and stopped giving up rebounds to Carson. (The Senators) played a great game. It was a fun game."
Especially for Kollasch, who added seven more points in the third quarter and, with a pair of free throws, brought the Mustangs back to within one at 39-38. Kollasch, who Hellen said has drawn interest from Nebraska, Mesa College (Colo.) and two teams in San Diego, added six points in the deciding fourth quarter, going 6-of-8 from the free throw line in the period and 10-of-12 overall.
Bianchi led all Carson scorers with 22 points. Hollett added 13.
After falling behind 40-39 on a Hatch runner to open the fourth, Carson took its last lead on a Tiandra Hudson putback to make it 41-40.
Kollasch converted 3-of-4 free throws and Macy Heins had a layup to put the Mustangs up 45-41, with 5:18 to go.
Hollett got Carson to within one at 46-45 with a 17-footer with 2:12 to go and Vondrak closed the gap to 48-47 with a drive to the hoop with 1:01 to go.
Hatch put Damonte up 49-47 after converting 1-of-2 free throws before Elayna Shine hit both of her shots from the charity stripe to tie it at 49-49, with 11 seconds to go.
But in the end, Kollasch put the kibosh on the Senators' run.
"We had a lot of energy," Carson coach Todd Ackerman said. "We had a decent week in practice. But a couple of things happened (in the game) we didn't want to. We didn't listen. We didn't rebound. We gave away too many second-chance shots in the second half.
"(The Mustangs) threw some wild stuff in - some unique stuff that went down. But it all counts. We shot [seven] free throws. They shot ."
The Mustangs and Senators will now go in two different directions: Damonte will continue shooting for the playoffs, while the Senators will celebrate a different occasion today at Morse Burley Gym.
"It's Christy (Works) Night," Ackerman said. "She's our only senior. We won't have a Senior Night. It's Christy Night for us."
Carson will also host North Valleys, beginning at 3:15 p.m.
"I told them we've got three more games," Ackerman said. "We can't make the playoffs. They have a decision to make: They can come out and play three hard games like they have all year, or not. I told them I think they will."