Carson High looked like a team that hadn’t played in 10 days, especially at the offensive end.
The Senators shot just 18 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the line in dropping a hard-fought 36-33 Division I crossover game to Spanish Springs in their Division I boys basketball opener Thursday night at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
Carson, which hosts Hug tonight at 7, falls to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in league.
Carson managed just four field goals in each half. The fact that it had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds is a testament to the defense, which helped the Senators cut a seven-point deficit down to three in the final 45 seconds.
“We never quit,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “They fought to the bitter end. It was not an offensive clinic by either team tonight. We’ve been in the gym practicing the last 10 days. We’ve played four games and they have played seven or eight. We’re a young team. We have four sophomores and three seniors.
“When shots don’t drop, there is a reason. Some credit goes to Spanish Springs. Kyle (Penney) is a good coach. They are always well prepared. They play hard and are very physical. Our shots didn’t drop. We were getting the shots we wanted, they just didn’t drop.”
Yet Carson had several chances down the stretch to put this one away. However, issues at he foul line and the lack of clutch shooting was the difference. Carson missed three consecutive 1-on-1 situations to start the fourth quarter and went 5-for-11 in the final eight minutes.
“You get into a league game, you have to knock those down,” Mendeguia said. “We didn’t get it done at the foul line.”
Trailing 32-29 with 1:27 left, Asa Carter had a chance to cut the deficit to one, but he was off the mark with his short jump shot. Jacob White answered with a transition slam dunk, and after Dilyn Rooker misfired, Marcus Loadholt was fouled and drained two free throws to make it 36-29 with 43 seconds left.
Cameron Price, who was held without a field goal, made one free throw to make it 36-30. After Josh Prizina missed the front end of a 1-on-1, Kyle Steele missed a 3-pointer.
The Senators forced a turnover and Jared Rooker’s three-point play made it 36-33 with 15 seconds left. Carson forced yet another turnover, and Carson had three shots at it, but failed to convert. Jared Rooker had two of the misses and Carter had the other. After the last miss, Bryce Delong was called for a foul, turning the ball over to Carson with 2 seconds left. Rooker hooked up a 3-pointer which bounced off the iron as time expired.
A big key was the absence of offense from Price and Steele. They entered the game averaging 12 points a contest, and on Thursday, the duo combined for just one field goal and 12 total points.
“You expect senior leadership to carry you all the time,” Mendeguia said. “As a team, you can’t always rely on two guys. We have other guys on this team that can score.”
White did a nice job being physical with Price.
“I’m pretty pleased with our defense,” Penney said. “We kept the ball in front of us and defended their screens well. Our kids showed toughness and that was key because we hurt ourselves at the offensive end.”
Indeed. The Cougars’ inability to handle pressure and shooting too quickly with the lead enabled Carson to stay in the game.
The nice thing is that Carson gets a chance to redeem itself tonight.
“We get to come right back and wash the bad taste out of our mouths, and that’s a good thing,” Mendeguia said. “We’ll have an early walkthrough and shotaround and clean some things up.”
Carson 54, Spanish Springs 44
Geraet Rauh scored 10 points to lead the Senators to the victory.
The win upped Carson’s record to 4-3 entering tonight’s game against Hug.
Brandon Gagnon and Gurpreet Badhan added nine each and Sevon Mandoki chipped in eight.
Spanish Springs rolls
SPARKS — The Cougars knocked off Carson for he second time this season, 42-31.
Jackson Frank led the offense with eight, while Daniel Morrison and Trevor Muckensturm added five each.