RENO — The Nate Tolbert era ended like it started with a blowout loss to two-time state champion Reno.
The Huskies scored the game’s first 16 points and cruised to a 78-33 victory in the opening round of the Division I playoffs Wednesday at Link Piazzo Gymnasium.
Reno, 24-3, advances to the semifinals against Douglas at 7:15 p.m. Friday. Carson ends its season with a 12-15 record and a third consecutive playoff berth. The game was played with a running clock for the final 13 1/2 minutes once Reno’s lead got to 40 points.
“At least I didn’t cry in there,” Tolbert said after a lengthy post-game chat with his team. “I think we got mercy ruled my first game here (three years ago), but there was no mercy rule back then.
“I saw some good things from some of our younger players. I thought Lulu (Street) played real well. I thought Taylor (Weddell) did a good job, too.”
Maddie Preston was held to a single basket, a season-low for her. Michelle Perry ended her season with an eight-point effort and Kayla Aikins added seven.
Carson didn’t seem like it wanted to be there. The Senators took a long time lacing up their shoes and getting out on the floor for warm-ups. There didn’t seem to be a lot of energy. It was almost like they knew what was waiting for them.
“They weren’t ready for the season to be over,” Tolbert said, acknowledging the listless attitude early.
The Huskies, despite the 34-point win over Carson at the start of the season, didn’t take the Senators for granted as evidenced by their 16-0 start which came in the first five minutes.
Mallory McGwire (15 points) proved to be a handful, scoring twice on putbacks and three free throws. Carson tried to be physical with her, but she still managed in the post to get the ball despite the pressure, and she used her length to keep the balls alive off the glass. Daranda Hinkey also produced a three-point play in that early run.
“I thought we came out very well,” Reno coach Shane Foster said. “We were as focused as I’ve seen us all year. I’m proud of the effort and proud of the focus we showed. We took care of the ball and were able to create some turnovers.
“A lot of people think we’re all about Mallory, and she is a key. But, we have other kids that can score.”
Hinkey (11 points) for one and freshman Mikayla Shults (20) is another. They are the beneficiaries of teams paying too much attention to McGwire. Hinkey got to the basket often because of poor rotation, according to Tolbert.
Perry broke the drought with 3:03 left and Bailey Allen scored Carson’s first basket of the night with 1:21 left.
Reno scored the last six of the opening period for a 23-3 advantage.
Carson’s problems continued in the second quarter. The Senators had some decent looks, but the ball simply wouldn’t go in.
It took the Senators nearly six minutes for their first basket of the second quarter, and that was a banked 3-pointer by Aikins which made it 39-11. The Huskies led 44-13 at the intermission.
Carson went 5-for-24 from the floor and turned the ball over 11 times. Reno’s press forced it into several wild passes.
“I thought we were taking good shots,” Tolbert said. “They just weren’t falling.”
Hinkey had a three-point play and a basket to start a quick 7-2 run, and after Teresa Boehmer scored her second basket of the quarter, Reno went on a 9-0 run to stretch its lead to 60-17 midway through the third period.
Shults had seven points in that surge.
Reno got the lead up to 46 points three different times in the final period.