Carson boys fall short

SPARKS - Despite tremendous offensive games by Rafe King and Chris Lopez, Carson High's boys basketball team dropped its third straight game.

King scored 31 and Lopez added 14, but Reed got 20 second-half points from Alonzo Vega to grab a 69-62 win over the Senators in a Division I game Tuesday night.

The loss dropped Carson to 6-5 in league heading into Friday's home game against Bishop Manogue.

"I think we're fine," Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said after a lengthy talk with his team. "We just have to get back to work and get ready for Friday's big game.

"Vega got hot. We didn't anticipate him doing that. To have six 3's in a half shows what he can do. That was a dagger in us."

Reed had a lot of weapons, and it was Vega who hurt the Senators the most with his howitzers from the corners.

"Not in front of anybody," said Reed coach Dustin Gray when asked if Vega had shot like that before. "We see it everyday in practice. We've had to have him play some different positions this year (because of injuries). He's finally getting comfortable."

So is King, and that could be bad news for the rest of the Division I teams. He showed throughout the game why he is one of the most feared offensive players around. The 6-foot-3 senior scored 24 of his game-high 31 in the final 16 minutes, and his long-range shooting got Carson back into the game after Vega hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 10-0 run and give the Raiders a 40-31 lead with 5:27 left in the third.

During the next 11 minutes, King scored 22 of Carson's 29 points, helping the Senators trim what was a 10-point lead at the outset of the fourth quarter to 63-62 with 2:07 left. What was impressive about the streak, and it's not the first time King has done this, was that Gray knew Carson's sets and what the Senators were trying to do.

"He's got a shooter's mentality," Mendeguia said. "He played a superb all-around game tonight. I think he's getting his confidence back."

"I'm surprised they were going in," King said. "I took the whole weekend off from shooting. They started to drop during warm-ups. I was able to get to the rack pretty easy tonight, which helps my shot from the outside."

His performance was no surprise to Gray, who coaches King in travel ball.

"He's tough," Gray said. "He's so physically strong when he's taking the ball to the basket."

And, when King wasn't lighting it up, Lopez stepped in and hit a couple of key baskets. Lopez hit back-to-back 3-pointers about a minute apart in the fourth quarter that cut Reed's lead to four. Not bad for a guy who doesn't like to start. Lopez had eight in the first half, leading the team.

"He likes to come off the bench," Mendeguia said. "He likes to evaluate the game. He likes that role."

Unfortunately, Carson's inability to finish down the stretch led to its downfall.

Trailing 65-62 with 1:17 left, Carson had a chance to tie the game. Matt Nolan's pass sailed out of bounds, however.

Carson had to take three fouls to get the Raiders in the bonus. Deyraun Stamps knocked down two free throws to make it 67-62. Neither Carson or Reed scored on their next two possessions, and the Senators let another golden opportunity slip away when Alan Cohen missed a layup off an inbounds play. After Trae Wells missed the front end of a 1-on-1, Cohen failed to convert a 5-footer in the lane.

"We were using Rafe as a decoy, and the plan on that inbounds play was to go right to Alan," Mendeguia said.

Carson had slow starts in the first and third quarters. Reed bolted to a 10-0 lead to start the game and had a 10-2 run to start the second half. Carson led just once the entire game (31-30), and that was for just 19 seconds.


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