There’s a big reason why Carson High’s boys basketball team sits atop the Sierra League with five games left in the regular season — defense.
The Senators are stingy when it comes to giving up points, and they proved it again Tuesday night in their easy 64-50 win over arch-rival Douglas at Morse Burley Gym.
Carson improved to 11-0 while the Tigers dropped to 6-5. The Senators visit Damonte Ranch Friday at 7 p.m.
The Tigers shot 46 percent from the floor, but turned the ball over 19 times which led to 18 CHS points.
“The kids came out and played a great defensive game,” CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “I thought we allowed them too much penetration into the key, but overall we played well enough to get the job done.
“I thought the third quarter was big. We got some runouts; got in transition. When you shoot 3s like they do, you’re going to get some long rebounds, and that enables you to get some runouts and get into transition.”
Carson, which led 31-21 at the half, held the Tigers to just two field goals in the third quarter. The first came with 5:38 left and the second came with 2:03 remaining.
“I don’t think there was a turning point,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “Carson is a good team. They played well, and they played well in transition. When you play defense like they do, there is no turning point in the game. They got in transition and got some easy baskets. They only had two 3-pointers, so that means 58 points came on free throws or in the key. We have to do a better job defensively. On offense we just didn’t execute.”
The Senators went on a 6-3 surge to start the second half, four points coming from Asa Carter (19 points) and two from Jayden DeJoseph (14 points) to make it 37-23. A 13-3 run later in the period upped the lead to 52-31. Jace Keema scored five of his seven in that stretch while DeJoseph banged home a 3-pointer. After Tanner Williams drained a free throw, Cody Azevedo knocked down a free toss and Keema added two more points to make it 55-32 at the end of the quarter.
Carter had struggled in his last two games, so it was good to see him knock some shots down. He’s a key part of the offense, and the Senators need that consistency he provided in the first eight or nine league contests.
“Asa played well tonight,” Mendeguia said. “We played without Asa basically the second half, and guys came off the bench and stepped up.”
Carter took a hard spill in the second quarter, and left the game for good after picking up his third foul of the game in the third period.
One of those guys was Cody Azevedo, who helped Jared Rooker handle the ball down the stretch. Kyle Krebs also came off the bench and gave the Senators a couple of minutes of mistake free basketball.
Douglas did get the deficit to 61-43 after two free throws by Zach Kellar and a lay-up by Williams, but a free throw by DeJoseph and two by Gareat Rauh made it 64-43 with 2:05 left. Douglas ended the game on a 7-0 run against Carson’s second unit.
The second quarter was also huge for the Senators, quite possibly bigger than the third.
The Senators went on a 13-2 run in the first five minutes of the period to take a 27-17 lead, wiping out Douglas’ 15-14 first-quarter advantage.
DeJoseph and Rooker scoerd twice, while Tez Allen (11 points) added a hoop and Carter three free throws. The Tigers went 1-for-5 and turned the ball over several times in that stretch.
At 11-0, the Senators are two wins away from reaching the league win total of last year, 13-3. Mendeguia said he didn’t have a win total in mind when the season started.
“I haven’t really thought about that at all,” he said. “I knew we could be a successful team if we did the little things.”
And, the big things like playing defense. After all, defense wins championships.
Thacker said if the Senators keep playing like they have been they are capable of running the table.
Of Carson’s five remaining games, two are home against Wooster and Bishop Manogue. CHS plays Galena, Damonte and Douglas on the road.
Conversely, the third-place Tigers play Galena, Manogue and Carson at home.
“It depends on which team shows up,” Thacker said when asked if he thinks his team could get up to seond place.