SPARKS - With no player taller than 6-foot-3, the Carson Senators knew that they would have to contend with bigger bodies below the basket.
But on Tuesday, it was the Senators who had the upper hand on the boards as they defeated the perimeter-shooting Reed Raiders 59-54 by outrebounding them.
"When they get second and third shots, percentages go way up so you've got to box out and get the rebound and limit their opportunities," Carson junior Brian Barnes said. "When they rarely miss, you've got to take advantage of it."
It was a good thing Reed didn't have the strength to beat Carson on the boards because it was the only thing keeping the Senators in the game for three quarters. The Raiders rarely missed from behind the arc, but when they did Carson was there to clean it up.
Mike Powell led the Raiders in scoring with 24, including four 3-pointers.
"We started extending out on the perimeter because they're a perimeter-shooting team and they weren't hurting us much inside," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. "Going into games, we always focus on the inside and work out and tonight finally in the fourth quarter (we) decided to stop the shooting and make them hurt us inside, which I don't say that very often."
But everyone from 6-foot-3 Pat Smith to 5-foot-6 Andrew Johnson helped make up the difference on the defensive glass, limiting Reed's opportunities.
Reed took a 23-19 lead late in the second quarter and picked up threes in the third quarter from Aaron Greenblat and Powell to hold a 39-36 lead with 3:22 left.
But Carson went to a zone defense exclusively and began to shut down passing lanes and put a hand in the face of Reed's perimeter players.
Reed turned the ball over twice in the final minutes of the third quarter and Carson regained the lead with a jumper from Trey Jensen, a pair of free throws from Matt Cooper and a 3-pointer from Jensen to go up 43-39.
Carson then used a 10-3 run to open the fourth quarter and put the game away.
"I think they went on a couple runs," Reed coach Dustin Hall said. "The last minute of the second quarter hurt. We gave up an offensive rebound and then they get a putback and foul. Then they hit a three; so a six-point lead is down to nothing at halftime. And then obviously the start of the fourth quarter. Our defense didn't find people, and then offensively, we got stagnant."
Carson benefited by using Brian Barnes as a decoy. After posting a 12-point first half, the Raiders double-teamed him, forcing other players to win the game. The Senators began running the offense through him and Barnes (17 points) kicked it out to the open player. Barnes finished with 17 points but it was Smith who was helped the most from Reed's doubling of Barnes, finishing with 14 points.
"Once we get someone going a little bit then we start to use him as decoy," coach Barnes said. "Pat got a couple easy shots inside where we ran an out of bounds where they're doubling Brian and Pat would get a layup.
"Brian's going to face that quite a bit this year just because he's a returning guy, who scored a lot of points last year. He's going to get that, but we're confident in the four other guys that are out there to step up. He definitely doesn't have to do it all."