Kyle Steele went from goat to hero in a span of two plays.
Steele committed a key turnover with 23.1 seconds left in the first overtime, but then hit a step-back jump shot with 1.7 seconds left in the second overtime to give Carson a thrilling 61-60 victory over Bishop Manogue in the NIAA Division 1 regional basketball semifinals before a capacity crowd Thursday night at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
The win sends Carson, 18-7 overall, into the finals on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Carson against Galena, a 46-31 winner over Spanish Springs. It was Carson’s second double-overtime win over the Miners in nine days.
Galena and Carson split the season series, each team winning on the road.
“This is the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia told his team after the win. “We always talk about facing adversity, and in a playoff atmosphere, you’re going to have adversity. You’re going to have ups and downs, and we had those.
“We believed we could make it happen. The kids kept playing hard and playing together.”
Carson trailed by six points with 2:30 left in regulation, but rallied to tie the game when Asa Carter intercepted a Derek Novsek pass near midcourt and roared in for a layup. Carson blew a six-point lead in the first overtime and then overcame a four-point deficit in the second overtime to emerge with the win.
Carson trailed 59-55 with 41.1 left in the second overtime. Carter, who led all scorers with 23 points, knocked in his second 3-pointer of the game to make it 59-58.
“I haven’t shot many 3s, and I haven’t hit that many so maybe they weren’t worried about defending me,” Carter said.
Justin DeGues made it 60-58 when he made a single free throw. Carter was fouled on the next possession and made the first with 13.8 left. He missed the second, but Cameron Price hustled to get his biggest rebound of the game.
Steele got the ball up top and started to drive to the basket. When the lane closed, he drained a step-back jump shot with 1.7 left.
The Carson fans stormed the floor, but went back to their seats when time was put back on the clock because Manogue had called timeout.
“There was a good lane and then it closed,” Steele said. “I decided to take the step back and let it rain.”
Carson’s Jace Keema knocked the ensuing inbounds pass out of bounds with 1.3 left, giving Manogue the ball on Miners’ side of the court. James Cantwell missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending the Senators to the regional finals again. Carson lost to Hug two years ago.
“We knew they were going to be in a zone, and we wanted to spread them out,” Mendeguia said. “We wanted Kyle to get into the lane and then hit somebody cutting to the basket. He shoots that step back shot all the time.”
It was only fitting and fair Steele got the chance to redeem himself. It was his pass with 23.4 left that keyed Manogue’s comeback in the first overtime. He scored 10 in the playoff opener against North Valleys and added nine against the Miners. He seems more sure of himself shooting the ball, and that’s good news for the Senators and bad news for the opposition.
“I’ve been kind of doubting myself,” admitted Steele. “We’re in the playoffs now, and I’ve gotten into that mindset.”
“The season he’s had isn’t indicative of his ability,” Mendeguia said. “Kyle is a talented player. We count on him to run the offense, and if we get 10 or 12 points out of him that’s icing on the cake. Shooting is a confidence thing. You can go in slumps. He lost his confidence a bit. He is doing a lot of little things well for us.”
The last meeting on Feb. 10, the teams were never separated by more than four points the entire 40 minutes. This one was a little different. Carson twice enjoyed seven-point leads and Manogue had two six-point leads. There were 11 ties in the game. It was every bit as close as Carter thought it would be.
“Coming into the game, I honestly thought it would go overtime,” Carter said.
It was Carter’s steal and interception that sent the game into overtime. Manogue was trying to run out the clock, and Novsek’s pass hung in the air way too long. Carter grabbed the ball like he was playing free safety and returning an interception. He was a man on a mission. He wasn’t going to be stopped.
NOTES: Manogue went 6-for-10 from the line in the second OT while Carson was 5-for-6 ... Novsek (22 points) and Carter (23 points) were the only players to score points in all six periods ... Bob Bateman, Carson athletic director, covered $3 of the $5 entry fee for the first 100 Carson fans to show up on Thursday. He said he will do the same thing for Saturday’s game. Both Steele and Jayden DeJoseph talked about how the crowd was appreciated by the team ... The girls championship game will start at 4. Both games on Saturday will be streamed live and televised on Channel 21 (KAME).