Often times, a game for first place doesn't live up to the pre-game hype or expectations of either side.
The Carson-Bishop Manogue girls' game was everything it was cracked up to be and more.
The Miners used a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter to wipe out a 3-point Carson deficit and beat the Senators 52-44 Tuesday at Morse Burley Gym.
The loss dropped Carson to 10-5 entering Thursday's home and league finale against Galena. Win or lose, Carson has the No. 2 seed from the Sierra League and will host Reno or Spanish Springs next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
"It was a good game," Carson coach Todd Ackerman said. "We played well and they played well. Both teams shot it well. The effort we put out was wonderful.
"They had a good run at the start of the fourth quarter, and we didn't answer."
Ackerman was referring to the aforementioned 9-0 run by the Miners, which enabled the Sierra League champs to take control of the game.
Carson trailed 38-33 with 4:18 left, but went on a quarter-ending 8-0 run for a 41-38 lead after three. Eliza Matley (21 points) had a key 3-pointer, while Maddi Saarem converted nice feeds from Savannah Smith and Elayna Thurman into lay-ups.
The Miners got a big boost from Emma Briggs, who converted a three-point play, tying the game at 41. After Emily Collins misfired, Gabby Concepcion scored on a nice drive to the basket for a 43-41 lead. Matley went 0-for-2 on the Senators' next trip downcourt, and Kelly Lujan dropped in two free throws for a 45-41 edge. Carson turned the ball over the next two possessions. Lujan drained two free throws to make it 47-41 with 5:05 left.
Neither team scored, and with 3:40 left on the clock, Manogue coach Craig Holt went to a 4-corner offense, as Carson, on instructions from Ackerman, stayed in its zone.
"We were tired," Ackerman said. "We wanted to rest and shorten the game a little. They were doing a good job of handling the ball."
And, the Senators were having a terrible time stopping the Miners' penetration, especially that of Lujan and Concepcion.
"Gabby did a really good job," Manogue coach Craig Holt said. "Some of our other players didn't show up tonight."
Matley's two free throws trimmed the lad to 50-43 with 1:55 left, but the Miners went 5-for-6 at the line in the last minute of the game.
It was Matley's shooting that kept the Miners from breaking the game open in the second quarter.
After Brianna Holt's basket made it 25-16 with 4:10 left, Carson went on a 10-3 run to slice Manogue's lead to 28-27 with 1:21 left. Matley drained a trio of treys to lead the surge. Concepcion's 3-pointer and two free throws by Lujan gave the Miners a 33-27 lead after three.
Carson outscored Manogue 14-5 in the third quarter, as Carson bounced back from an eight-point deficit with a 12-1 lead.
That momentum was quickly wiped out by Manogue's big run to start the fourth quarter.
"They're a good team," coach Holt said of Carson. "They can definitely beat somebody in the playoffs. They are a tough team."