RENO — For 16 minutes, Carson High’s girls basketball team was in the ballgame against two-time defending state champion Reno.
Then Mallory McGwire got hot, and it was lights out for the Senators.
McGwire scored 16 of her game-high 23 to lead the Huskies to a season-opening 68-34 win Tuesday night in a Division I crossover game.
Carson won’t have long to wait to get back on the floor. The Senators open the annual High Sierra Winter Challenge on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Reno High against Casa Roble. The Senators will play four games in three days. Carson will play Friday and Saturday at Spanish Springs.
Carson coach Nate Tolbert saw some positive things in the lopsided loss.
“We competed for the first half,” Tolbert said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been involved at Carson that we led in the game other than maybe scoring the first basket. We did a lot of good things.
“I think we thought the game was closer than it was. When they (Reno) scored a couple of early baskets in the second half, we had a letdown.”
Carson was able to stay close in the first half because the 6-foot-3 McGwire, daughter of former NFL quarterback Dan McGwire and niece of ex-A’s slugger Mark McGwire, got into quick foul trouble. She played just 4-minutes 24-seconds of the first 16 minutes.
McGwire picked up her second foul with 3:48 left in the opening quarter. She left with Reno holding a 9-4 lead.
The Huskies stretched their lead to 14-7, but 10 straight points by Maddie Preston gave Carson a 17-14 lead with 5:35 left in the half.
Carson went cold after Kayla Aikins’ basket with 4:24 left, and Reno walked off the floor with a 25-19 lead despite the fact McGwire sat out the final 7:48 of the second quarter after picking up her third foul.
Carson went just 6-for-26 from the floor in the opening 16 minutes and turned the ball over 12 times, leading to seven Reno points.
Reno does have McGwire, but the rest of its line-up struggles.
“We’re so young,” Reno coach Shane Foster said. “We only have a couple of girls that have played (varsity) before. We’re going to look young at times.
“The second half we were a little more aggressive at both ends of the floor.”
The Huskies opened the second half with an 11-2 run en route to a 37-21 lead. Eight of those points came on two three-point plays and a putback by McGwire.
Carson’s Teresa Boehmer tried her best to be physical with McGwire, but to no avail.
“Teresa would screen her out once, but there has to be continuous effort,” Tolbert said. “She (McGwire) is going to keep going, so you have to keep working.”
Things got ugly in the fourth quarter.
Reno had a 10-2 run in the first 3 1/2 minutes to build a 51-27 lead. McGwire had six in that stretch. The Huskies ended the game with a 13-3 run.
Preston finished with 17, exactly half of Carson’s points. Michelle Perry had five first-quarter points, but managed just one point the rest of the way. Nobody else scored more than two points, which wasn’t the type of production Tolbert had hoped for.