As the final buzzer sounded, you wouldn’t have known the Carson High boys basketball team had just won its second straight Sierra League regular-season championship.
The Senators, who won 54-30 Tuesday night to extend their record to 13-0, shook hands with Wooster players and silently walked off the court. There was no celebration whatsoever.
Maybe because it was a game the Senators were expected to win, or maybe because it’s just one goal accomplished with a couple more to go.
Having clinched the outright title with three games to play is great, and it certainly takes pressure off the Senators, who are now 19-5 overall. The Senators shared the regular-season title with Galena last season.
“It’s nice,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “We have bigger fish to fry beginning Friday. We are at Galena, and you know they want revenge, home for Senior Night against Manogue and then we go to Douglas. We have three tough games left.”
“It’s very exciting,” Carson guard Asa Carter said. “We have three goals during the season, the first is to win league, we want to beat Douglas twice and win the regional championship.”
For the latter to happen, the Senators will have to get off to a better start. Wooster lead 11-9 after one period, as Carson went 2-for-8 from the field and turned the ball over twice.
“In pre-game warmups, I could see some guys were not ready to play,” Mendeguia said. “Our mental approach hasn’t been very good the past couple of games. We’re not that good that we can just show up.”
Carson woke up in the second quarter, and the rout was on.
Carson scored eight straight on a nice lay-up by Jayden DeJoseph off an inbounds play, two free throws by Tez Allen (13 points) and a lay-up by Jared Rooker to make it 17-11. After Sam Tranberg scored Wooster’s only points of the quarter on a putback, Carson went on a 10-0 run in the final 3-minutes 49-seconds to extend its lead to 27-13 at the half.
Asa Carter, who led all scorers with 17 points, started the surge with two baseline jump shots, and Kyle Krebs followed with a 3-pointer with 2:24 left to make it 24-13. Allen scored on a putback and Ian Schulz made a free throw to complete the half-ending surge. Wooster couldn’t handle Carson’s trapping, pressure defense, turning the ball over 11 times. The mistakes led to 14 second-chance points for the Senators.
“That (quarter) was the key,” Mendeguia said. “It (the defense) got us going a little bit. We got some steals and some easy baskets.”
The second quarter was a microcosm of Carson’s season. The Senators didn’t exceute great defensively against Wooster’s zone, but their defense was outstanding. Wooster was held to 38 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 23 times.
Carter was especially effective against Isaac Zinnerman, who finished with nine points, well below his season average of 17.4.
“Zinnerman didn’t play the first time against us (injury), but neither did Asa (football recruiting trip),” Mendeguia said. “Holding him to nine is great. You can always count on Asa to do a good defensive job.”
“I just tried to force him where there was help,” Carter said. “I remembered him from last year. I thought our half-court was really good in the second quarter.”
What also helped is Zinnerman picked up his third foul late in the second quarter, and nobody other than Ben Ginn stepped up. Ginn finished with nine, all on 3-pointers.
A 6-0 run early in the third quarter made it 33-15, and a 7-0 run bridging the late third quarter and early fourth quarter made it 40-20.
Wooster cut the lead to 14 at the end of three, but Carson opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run sparked by Jace Keema’s two jump shots.