Carson High girls' coach Todd Ackerman missed Saturday's basketball game because of a death in his family.
Assistant coach Nate Tolbert stepped in, and guided the Senators to an easy 54-20 win over Damonte Ranch Saturday afternoon at Morse Burley Gym.
Carson improved to 6-3 heading into a tough three-game week with games at Hug on Tuesday, at Galena on Wednesday and at home on Friday against arch-rival Douglas.
"Todd and I were watching film on Sunday, and he said that he might have to leave town for a couple of days," Tolbert said. "I found out on Tuesday that he wasn't going to be here."
Tolbert said he tried to keep things light in lieu of the situation, and the Carson girls responded by playing with a lot of confidence and poise. Tolbert said he tried not to "ride anybody" given the situation the team was in.
Carson responded with an impressive defensive performance. Carson forced 25 turnovers and converted those mistakes into 27 points.
"We wanted our defense to play fast because that tends to get our offense going," Tolbert said. "We're committed to playing good defense. It's our No. 1 goal. We wanted to wear them down."
At the outset of the second quarter, Carson forced eight straight turnovers on possessions where Damonte failed to put up a shot.
After Damonte closed to 8-7 with 3 minutes 12 seconds left in the first quarter, Carson went on an unbelievable run. Over the next 15-plus minutes, Carson outscored Damonte 34-2 to take a 42-9 lead with 3:45 left in the third.
Eliza Matley had nine of her 12 in the span, while Emily Collins added eight of her 10. Tiana McAllister-Daggs contributed five of her 12 in the big run. Elayna Thurman scored all five of her points in that stretch.
Leading by 34 entering the final quarter, Carson changed its zone defense, and Damonte Ranch scored seven straight points to get the deficit under 30. Damonte didn't score in the final 5 1/2 minutes, as the Senators scored the final seven points of the game, five by Kaitlyn Holmes.
"We played a new zone, and Damonte adjusted to it," Tolbert said. "We have to make some adjustments to it before we roll it out.
"On offense, I thought the girls did a great job of getting set up things offensively."