Fired up after a triple-overtime loss to Hug on Tuesday, the Carson Senators came out on fire Friday against Damonte Ranch.
Seniors Rob Valerius and Zach Rispin each scored a team-high 13 points and 11 of Carson's 12 players scored as the high-energy Senators raced past the Mustangs, 74-41, at Morse Burley Gym.
"I think they felt a little sting after that triple-overtime game," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said of his players. "There are two ways to come out of that: You can take it personal and come out and make changes, or you can fall in a rut. They refused to do that (fall in a rut) and came out with a lot of energy tonight."
The Senators, who improved to 1-2 in the Sierra League and 8-8 overall, started the game with a 14-2 run, with junior Paul Cagle scoring five points in that spurt.
Junior Steve Fowzer played inspired ball off the bench, contributing several assists and causing many of the Mustangs' 28 turnovers. He found an open Valerius, who drained a 17-footer and Cagle hit one of two free throws to give Carson a 19--7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"Fowzer is probably the best athlete on the team," Barnes said. "Once he starts putting it together, he'll be a real good player."
Valerius nailed a 3-pointer to give Carson its largest lead to that point, 24-9, with 6 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the half.
A pair of Valerius free throws and a trey by senior guard Caleb Carter stretched the lead to 16 at 29-13. Carter finished with 11 points.
Zach Rispin connected for two 3-pointers in the second quarter, giving Carson leads of 32-15 and 35-19.
"I was a little mad with the game at Hug," Rispin said. "I was upset we didn't pull it out. I came out in the second half tonight and played with a little fire in my belly. My shot's been working for me lately."
"Zach came off the bench and had a couple of transition layups and got open to get some shots," Barnes said. "He's a good 3-point shooter."
Carson got 34 points from its bench. A putback by junior guard Kalvin Case and an Uriel Duran layup gave the Senators a 39-22 lead at halftime.
"Our non-starters have been playing awfully well in practice," Barnes said. "They've put in a lot of time and deserve the playing time they're getting. On the positive side, too, they kept us a little fresher. We rested some bodies and they came back in and hit some shots."
Rispin said it was a matter of the bench players matching the intensity of the starters.
"Everyone on the bench brought it," Rispin said. "The first team has a lot of energy. When the players come off the bench, they have to match their energy or have even more energy to keep it going. Everyone comes in and works his butt off."
Carson never relented, going up by 20 (42-22) on a free throw by Cagle and a layup by Carter. Cagle scored eight points and freshman Brian Barnes added nine for the Senators.
A Matt Rutledge 15-footer swelled the Senators' lead to 22 at 48-26, with 4:27 remaining in the third. Carson held a 53-33 lead after three.
"Getting the league win at home is very important," Coach Barnes said. "If you fool around and lose one at home, you put a lot of pressure on yourself on the road. It was good to see. The two losses we had (Reno and Hug), we were in each game going into the last quarter. "
Carson mostly played its non-starters in the fourth quarter and they outscored Damonte 21-8 to send the Mustangs to 2-2 in league, 4-11 overall.
"The first league victory is kinda nice to get," Valerius said. "We felt like we should have two more - we should be 3-0, but we let it slip in the second half. We didn't change our game plan; we were able to stick with it. After we were up by two on Reno, they kicked our ass. Against Hug, we got a little complacent - they wanted it more than we did in the third quarter."
With Douglas - who is unbeaten in league play - coming in to face the Senators Monday at 7 p.m., the Senators can't afford to be complacent. Valerius said that won't be a problem.
"It's always the best game of the year," Valerius said. "That's why you play basketball. If you don't like playing against Douglas, you must not be a basketball player."