Make no mistake about it, this was a game Carson needed to win and was expected to win.
After dropping four straight in Las Vegas over the holiday break, Carson returned to Northern 4A play with an easy 75-55 win over visiting North Valleys Tuesday night at Morse Burley Gym.
The Senators had four players in double figures - Brian Barnes 19, Ty Keefer and Tyler Collins with 12 each and Matt Nolan with 11. Trey Jensen contributed nine.
Carson improved to 2-2 in 4A play, while North Valleys dropped to 0-10.
"We knew they were a little like us," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. "We expect to win games like that, especially if they are at home.
"We looked a little lethargic. We were lethargic at practice (on Monday). We only had one day of practice to get ready."
For the first 10 1/2 minutes, the winless Panthers, playing without star forward Nick Palko, gave Carson everything it wanted. It was a racehorse pace by both teams, which is something Carson hasn't done a lot of thus far.
Gled Bautista, who led all scorers with 21 points scored eight in the first 10-plus minutes, as North Valleys trailed just 26-24 with 5:11 remaining in the opening half.
Carson, thanks to two buckets each from Chris Steele and Keefer, went on a 15-5 run to close the half for a 41-29 lead. Keefer had eight in the quarter and 10 in the opening half. Brian Barnes had nine of his 19 in the first 16 minutes, and he also made some nifty passes throughout the game leading to some easy buckets.
"That's what I was happy about (with Brian)," coach Barnes said. "They were expecting him to shoot, and he was able to turn the corner and make some nice bounce passes. We need him to be able to do that in some of the tougher games coming up; get the other guys more involved."
North Valleys coach Richard Peraldo said streaks like the one Carson used to build up a double-digit lead in the opening half has hampered his team all year.
"We have trouble coming back (after somebody runs off a string of points)," he said. "I can't question our intensity.
"He (Palko) is my horse up front. He gives me 15 and 10 every night. Take that away from any team ..."
If the 15-5 run wasn't hurtful enough to the Panthers, the Senators went on an 8-2 run in the first 2:23 of the second half to up its lead to 50-31. Collins, who made the start in place of Steele, had seven straight Carson points in the second-half surge.
"I was making some good cuts and I was able to make some layups," Collins said. "My teammates were able to find me."
"Tyler played well," the elder Barnes said. "He played well when we were in Las Vegas. He knows what his job is and he does it very well. He's not the biggest guy, but he know what to do and how to get position so bigger guys can't do things against him."
Carson's lead stayed between 13 and 17 points until the waning moments of the fourth quarter when it closed out the game with five straight games to get the win and its biggest lead of the contest.