RENO — For three quarters, all was right with the world.
The Carson Senators were shooting 65 percent from the field and held a commanding 21-point lead over Damonte Ranch in their Sierra League opener.
The fourth quarter? It left a sour taste in the mouth of CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia, who watched his lead dwindle down to seven points before order was restored and the Senators walked away with a 68-55 road win.
Carson improved to 5-2 in league play and 8-6 overall heading into Friday’s home game against Wooster. Damonte fell to 3-4 in league.
“I don’t feel like we won the game tonight,” Mendeguia said. “We were playing great for nearly three quarters. I don’t want to hear the excuse that we have a young team. We’ve played enough games together we can’t use that as an excuse. I’ve told the kids that league games are going to be more intense and there is a different atmosphere.
“For the first three quarters we were executing, and looking to get the ball inside. Then we went away from that. We started standing around; not moving. We had an opportunity tonight to put this game away. It will be good for them to see that when they deviate from what we want done what is going to happen.”
Until Damonte’s big rally in the fourth quarter, Carson essentially dominated.
Carson outscored Damonte 20-9 to take a double-digit lead at the half, 31-19. The Senators scored nine of the last 12 points, as Jayden DeJoseph started the barrage with a 3-pointer and ended it with three free throws. In between, reserve guard Jared Rooker knocked down a jump shot and converted a lay-up.
The lead stayed at 12 for the first 90 seconds of the second half, and then Carson’s offense got rolling. Led by Asa Carter, the Senators outscored Damonte 13-3 in the final 5 minutes of the period to grab the previously mentioned 21-point lead, 48-27. Carter, who finished with 17 points, had nine in the third period, including five straight to finish off the quarter.
“Like I said, Asa has been our most consistent player,” Mendeguia said. “He has become our go-to guy. We put him on the other team’s best player, and he’s also scoring for us. It’s nice to see a junior step up like that.”
Damonte converted a five-point play which started a 16-4 surge that sliced the Senators’ lead to 56-49 with 1:54 left.
The barrage started when David Nicholas grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back in. He was fouled on the play by Cameron Price, who protested too much and was hit with his third technical in two games. Nicholas completed the three-point play and then Bret Cooper knocked in both free throws to make it 52-38. Price was just coming off a two-game suspension for being ejected against Reno. He was sent to the locker room by Mendeguia.
After a lay-up by Tez Allen and two free throws by Kyle Steele made it 56-40 with 4:11 left, Nicholas converted another offensive rebound into a three-point play to make it 56-43. Two free throws and a basket by Cameron Criss and two free throws from Cooper over the next two minutes made it 56-49.
“We did too much standing around,” Mendeguia said. “We weren’t moving.”
Carson scored just one field goal the rest of the game, but that’s because the game turned into a foul-a-thon. The Senators hit 10 of 12 from the charity stripe and DR went 2-for-7 from the field down the stretch.