The drought is over.
Thanks to an 11-2 run at the end of the third quarter, Carson High’s boys basketball team knocked off Douglas, 37-29, Friday night at Morse Burley Gymnasium to win its first league title since 2003.
Carson finished with a 13-3 league record (16-7 overall) and officially a share of the league title with Galena. Carson, however, will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s regional playoffs and host North Valleys Tuesday at 7 p.m.
As the score indicated, this one wasn’t pretty. The teams combined to shoot 33 percent for the game and turn the ball over 36 times. But, Carson was able to clean up its play in the second half, and that was the difference.
“League championships don’t come easy,” said CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia, who was an assistant to Bruce Barnes on the 2003 squad. “A lot of players don’t ever win a league title or even play for one. This group had a lot of adversity...injuries and other things, but they stayed with it.
“The first half we got caught up in the game. We weren’t doing what we needed to do offensively. We were settling for 3-point shots. Our defense has been solid all year, and we did a good job at that end of the floor.”
Douglas coach Corey Thacker praised Carson’s second half performance.
“They did a good job in the third quarter,” he said. “They came out and played aggressively. They beat us by 10 points in the quarter. They adjusted in the second half.”
The key to the game was Carson, despite going 5-for-24 from the floor, only trailed 16-11 at the half. Yes, at the half. Douglas turned the ball over 13 times, costing the Tigers a chance to score many more points and build a much bigger lead.
Carson chipped away the entire third quarter, and Asa Carter’s two free throws tied the game at 19 with 1:49 left in the period.
Douglas called a timeout 19 seconds later, and then turned the ball over on a 5-second violation coming out of the timeout.
Carson made the Tigers pay, as Price worked his way inside for a basket and was fouled by Alex Tessman. Price completed the three-point play to make it 22-19. Carson never trailed again. After Douglas turned the ball over on its next possession, Kyle Steele knocked down two free throws to make it 24-19 with 56.1 remaining. Douglas’ Jace Hart ended the 9-0 run with a layup to make it 24-21. Jayden DeJoseph, who led Carson with 11 points, got a buzzer-beating putback at the buzzer to make it 26-21.
“We tied the game, and then we got a couple of buckets,” Mendeguia said. “We were fine after that.”
Carson kept up the pressure in the fourth period.
After Price and Sam Broersma traded baskets in the first 30 seconds of the period, Carson scored six straight points to increase its lead to 34-23 with 5:09 left.
DeJoseph started the surge with a jump shot, and after a Douglas turnover, Carter knocked down a short jump shot. Following a Douglas miss, DeJoseph scored his final basket of the game off a nice assist from Tez Allen.
Broersma cut the deficit down to nine, 34-25, but the Tigers came up empty on their next four possessions. Carson didn’t help themselves by making two turnovers and missing the front end of back-to-back 1-and-1 situations. Free throws by Allen and Carter made it 36-27 with under a minute left.
“When we play good defense, we play good offense,” Price said after the game. “We came out hard the second half. We knew the coaches would be proud if we were able to win this game.”
Carson only converted one Douglas turnover into points in the first half.
In the final 16 minutes, Carson scored 13 points off Douglas mistakes.
And, Douglas didn’t help itself by going 5-for-18 from the floor in the final half.