Pete Padgett is more than 500 miles away now, but he will always have a special place in Carson High basketball lore.
Padgett coached the Senators to a regional title in 1995, posting a 24-7 record on the way to Carson’s last regional title until this season. Padgett later moved on to Reno High, but it’s safe to say he still bleeds a little blue and white.
The veteran coach admitted his CHS title team will always have a special place in his heart.
“I remember a lot of things about that team,” he said earlier this week in a telephone interview from his home in San Diego. “It was a group of kids that at the beginning of the season were not in position to be very successful. We had three memorable games with Reno that year. We had as one-point game (43-42) in the zone finals. Reno would hold the ball and we played the opposite.
“It was very pleasing for me (that year). We played well at the end of the season and came together as a team, and fortunately we were able to win it.”
Chris Rand, a four-year letterman hit the game-winning shot against Reno with three or four seconds left.
“That was a phenomenal high school basketball game,” Padgett said. “There were 4 or 5,000 people there that night.”
The Senators played another big one the following week at state.
Rand and David Bradshaw carried the team to an upset of Bishop Gorman in the opening round of state that year. Both scored 30 points in the game, and Bradshaw threw in eight 3-point field goals. Carson lost in the semifinals to Rancho.
“It was a crazy up and down season,” said Phil Yeager, a starter on the team. “I remember every time we went east to Lowry, Elko and Fallon, we lost. They were games we shouldn’t have lost.”
To hear former players talk, it was a tight-knit group.
“I remember a great bunch of guys,” said John Glover, a starter on the 1995 squad and current assistant baseball coach at Douglas High School. “We had a couple of good players (Rand and Bradshaw) who scored a lot of points. We had a ton of fun together.”
“It was a good group,” said local attorney Steve Handelin, who was a reserve on the team. “Chris Rand could jump out of the gym, and David Bradshaw’s shooting range was when he stepped into the gym. Glover was a very smart player and (Ken) Hannah was a heck of a point guard.”
Teams often reflect their coach. Padgett was a tough, fiery guy, and Carson was a tough, physical team. That hasn’t changed over the years.
“Our practices were tough,” said Yeager. “We’d be at each other’s throats. A few times there was some fighting.”
“Those practices made the games easier,” Handelin said. “They were some of the most intense practices I ever went through; two to three hours. Coach (Pete) Padgett was a tough coach. I call it tough love. He cared for his players, though.”
Padgett’s toughness obviously rubbed off on his players. You won’t find a tougher, more competitive guy than Glover, who said Padgett stressed hard work and solid fundamentals. Ditto for former coach Bruce Barnes and Carlos Mendeguia when they took over the head job at CHS.
“Pete was a blue-collar guy, and that’s been passed on as well,” said Glover. “Both teams (1995 and 2015-16) have a little grit.”
When you hear area coaches describe the Carson program during the years, the words gritty, grit and blue-collar come up a lot in the conversations.
It’s certainly not a knock. It is definitely a compliment. There may have been more talented teams over the years, but none that work as hard as Carson, and winning basketball is all about hard work.
Hard work has gotten Carson to where it is today, and the Senators run to tonight’s state playoff game against Coronado isn’t a surprise to Padgett.
“I saw them a couple of times last year in San Diego, and I told Carlos then that the future looked bright,” Padgett said. “They have gotten a lot better. I saw them beat McQueen this year.
“Carlos is one of most special players I ever coached and as good of a competitor as there ever was.”
This year’s team does have some similarities, according to Glover.
“Tez (Allen) is a little like Rand,” Glover said. “Jayden (DeJoseph) is like Bradshaw in that he can step out and hit the 3.”
Carson’s undefeated run through the league schedule is a hot topic around the league. Even Padgett said he can’t remember that happening in Carson before. His 1994 team went 17-1 in league.
“To go undefeated in any sport is so hard to do,” Glover said. “To get high school kids to play at a high level every night is hard.”