RENO — Carson High withstood a valiant fourth-quarter rally by Wooster to grab a 50-42 Sierra League win Tuesday night.
The win moved Carson to 12-11 overall and 7-6 in league play. The win keeps Carson’s third-place hopes alive. The Senators face a must-win situation Friday at home against Galena. The Grizzlies, Senators and Damonte are fighting for the final two playoff spots.
This one was much closer than it needed to be. Carson had been leading 44-25 with about 4 1/2 minutes left only to see the Colts, thanks to Camisha Franklin’s seven points, shave the lead to 44-38 over the next four minutes.
Carson closed the door by hitting six straight free throws, four by Maddie Preston and two by Michelle Perry, in the final 44.5 seconds.
A lot of the Wooster rally came against Carson reserves, and Carson coach Nate Tolbert took full responsibility for that.
“I stayed with my bench too long (in the fourth quarter),” he said. “I should have gone right back to the starters, but I’m a bleeding heart when it comes to the players. I want to make sure they get in there.
“We did enough to win. I’d prefer that it not get so tight. We need to beat Galena which would even that series.”
Tolbert admitted the goal is to finish third, which would mean a trip to Reed or North Valleys. A fourth-place finish would mean a visit to Reno for a first-round playoff game.
Carson played a strong first half, scoring the game’s first 10 points before Wooster got on the board with 2:08 left to make it 10-2 after one. Preston scored the game’s first six points and Melissa Glanzmann added two buckets.
“I thought it was going to be the Maddie Show the way she started,” Tolbert said.
Preston added five more in the second quarter, as the Senators increased their lead to 26-12 at the intermission. Defensively, Carson held high-scoring Tara Garcia to three buckets in the opening half.
“We tried some different tactics,” Tolbert said. “The last time we played them Garcia went off on us. I wanted to make sure she didn’t do that again. She got a few points, but I don’t think she really hurt us. We played a diamond defense and it rolled into a box-and-one depending on where she played.”
Wooster opened the second half with a 9-4 run, cutting the lead to 30-21. Preston made two big baskets to make it 34-21 and Garcia, who had a 3-pointer in the surge, knocked down two free throws to make it 34-23. A free throw by Perry and a basket by Bailey Allen made it 37-23 after three.
Allen scored six in the game for Carson, and gave the Senators energy when she was on the floor.
“I know what I’m going to get with Bailey,” Tolbert said. “I call her the ‘firecracker’ because she provides a spark and makes everybody around her better.”
Franklin scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter to make it 37-25. A layup by Allen, a 3-pointer by Perry and a putback by Kayla Aikins made it 44-25, and that’s when the game went south for the Senators.
Wooster scored 11 straight, seven from Franklin, to make it 44-36 with 1:05 left. Carson turned the ball over six times in that stretch and went 0-for-3 from the field in that span.
Preston righted things with four straight free throws to make it 48-40, and after Garcia scored with 16.4 left, Perry drained two free throws to complete the scoring.