RENO - After getting off to a train wreck of a start in the first quarter against the North Valleys Panthers, the Carson Senators girls basketball team made a game of it before falling, 50-44, Saturday at North Valleys High School.
Sophomore guard Gina Bianchi scored a game-high 22 points and sophomore center Tiandra Hudson came off the bench to contribute six points and provided a strong presence in the paint for the Senators, who fell to 1-5 in the Sierra League and 4-17 overall.
Senior guard Kaitlyn Nelson scored a team-high 20 points and senior center Helena Inskeep added 14 for the Panthers, who moved to 4-2 in league and 10-9 overall.
Nelson scored 12 points on four 3-pointers in a first quarter that saw North Valleys outscore Carson 17-2. But after a Nelson bucket stretched the lead to 19-2 to open the second, Carson made 12-2 run that drew them to within seven at 21-14.
Hudson, playing in place of starting center Cassie Vondrak, scored four points during the run, as did Bianchi, who scored more than 20 points for the third consecutive game.
"We got off to that start, but I knew it wasn't over by any stretch of the imagination," said first-year North Valleys coach Bob Bentley. "(The Senators) were determined and well coached."
Carson is coached by Todd Ackerman, who wasn't available for comment.
After an Inskeep layup, the Panthers led 23-14 at the half and the Senators went without a point until junior Krista Mattice broke Carson's 6 minute, 48-second scoring drought by hitting the back end of a one-and-one to make it 28-15 with 5:34 left in the third quarter.
The Senators, who were 16-of-66 from the floor, didn't make a basket for 7 minutes, 26 seconds, when Cassie Vondrak made a leaner with 4:46 to go in the third.
Bianchi had scored Carson's last bucket on a steal and a layup with 4:12 to go in the first half.
Carson also struggled from the free throw line, going 7-of-17, while North Valleys finished 18-of-28 from the charity stripe and 14-of-41 from the floor.
Nelson converted 6-of-7 free throws - all in the second half, while Inskeep went 6-of-10 from the foul line, including 5-of-9 in the fourth quarter. Inskeep had nine points in the second half.
"Kaitlyn did a nice job of directing the offense," Bentley said. "Helena is kind of a warrior. She plays well all the time; she's pretty steady."
After Inskeep put the Panthers up 30-17 with 3:20 remaining in the third, Carson went on an extended 11-1 run, capped by a 3-pointer off the glass by Bianchi, who had three treys in the run.
Nelson made all three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt and Inskeep added one more to give North Valleys a 35-28 lead with 5:55 to go in the game.
A Bianchi 3-pointer - her fourth of the game - got the Senators within four at 35-31, but over the last 4:43 they would never draw as close again.
Carson will host South Tahoe in its next game, beginning at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at Morse Burley Gym.