RENO — Carson High shook off a horrible first half to steamroll Damonte Ranch and clinch no worse than a tie for its second straight Sierra League championship.
The Senators, thanks to the offense provided by Asa Carter and Jayden DeJoseph, outscored the Mustangs by 18 points in the second half en route to a 59-43 victory Friday night.
Carson improved to 12-0, and thanks to Galena’s win over Bishop Manogue, the best the Miners can do is also reach 12 wins. The Senators can claim the title outright with a win at home Tuesday against the Wooster Colts. Carson also improved to 18-5 overall.
Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia had a lengthy post-game chat with his team, and no doubt the team’s 33-percent shooting and 13-turnover performance in the first half took center stage.
“We didn’t have a very good practice yesterday (Thursday),” Mendeguia said. “I was very disappointed with our mental approach. Damonte came out with a lot of energy, and I know they didn’t care whether we were 11-0. They played with great effort. Damonte played like they were 11-0 (in the first half).”
“It (the start) reminded me of North Valleys,” said Asa Carter, who led all scorers with 25 points. “We came out really weak that game.”
Fortunately for the Senators, basketball games are 32 minutes, and CHS played like world beaters in the final 16 minutes at both ends of the floor, outscoring Damonte 38-20. Unofficially, the Senators shot 60 percent from the field in the second half while holding the Mustangs to a 30 percent mark.
The Senators opened the second half with a 14-0 blitz, slicing up the Mustangs’ 1-3-1 defense, to take a 35-23 lead with 2:52 left. The Mustangs went 0-for-4 and turned the ball over four times, and three times Carson converted the mistakes into scores.
DeJoseph (24 points) had three buckets in that span and Carter added two, both on putbacks.
“We put Tez at the free-throw line and then had Jayden down low and Asa on the wing,” Mendeguia said. “They had No. 3 (Drew Damboise) down low, and we were looking to take advantage of that match-up.”
Rebounding in a zone defense isn’t the easiest thing to do, and Carter was able to exploit that two different times.
Damonte didn’t score for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the third, but the Mustangs went on an 8-3 surge to finish the quarter, cutting Carson’s lead to 38-31. Six of those points came from Brett Cooper, who was held to 12 by Carter.
“They were running a double stagger, and we weren’t doing a good job of helping (Asa) in the first half,” Mendeguia said. “We wanted to deny him (Cooper) the ball in the second half.”
Cooper ran Carter all over the court, but besides the two treys and two meaningless free throws late in the fourth quarter, it was a quiet night.
“He’s very tough to guard,” Carter said. “He can shoot it from anywhere. I just tried to deny him the ball once he gave it up.”
The Senators opened up a 49-36 lead thanks to an 11-5 run to start the fourth quarter. Carter had six points, while Allen had two free trows and DeJoseph one.
Allen’s free throws came after he missed two shots from close range, and got the offensive rebound both times.
He was fouled going up the third time. Damonte never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Damonte opened the game with a 9-0 run, but Carson fought back with six straight points, and was nipping at Damonte’s heels the rest of the half.
A 3-pointer by DeJoseph cut the lead to 20-19 with 2:55 left in the half.
A free throw by Cooper and a bucket by Ryan Riggle made it 23-19. Ian Schulz scored his only points of the game with 22.5 left to make it 23-21 at the half.
That set the stage for Carson’s big third quarter which turned the game around.