Both Carson and Douglas girls basketball knew days in advance what Friday’s contest would decide.
In the end, it was the Senators who locked up the No. 3-seed in the Sierra League on their home floor with a 59-45 win over Douglas.
The win means Carson will travel to Reno (13-8) Tuesday to open Class 4A Northern Region play. The Senators bested the Huskies 62-33 Jan. 10 in Carson.
“It’s not going to be the same as it was the first time,” said Whisler. “We just have to do what we do, play smart and play hard.”
For the Tigers, they’ll head into the regional tournament as the No. 4 seed out of the Sierra League, meaning they will travel to take on last year’s 4A state runner-up Spanish Springs (19-4).
Douglas and Spanish Springs met earlier in the year with the Cougars leaving Minden with a 65-36 win.
“We can’t panic. We’re going to see tons of pressure,” said Douglas head coach Brian Mello. “We need to focus on us and enjoy the moment in the playoffs.”
Fourth quarter swing
In the first matchup, Carson took over the fourth quarter to pull out a win and Friday night it was the Senators who were once again able to gain the upper hand in the final eight minutes.
Carson led 41-38 entering the fourth quarter before Naycy Alvarez scored a putback bucket.
Bella Kordonowy scored the next three points for the Senators on a free throw and a layup after an assist in transition from Lily Bouza.
Kordonowy’s layup gave Carson its biggest lead of the night, 46-38, with 4:50 left in the final quarter.
Douglas didn’t let the Senators slip away, as Soleil Cariaga drained a corner 3-pointer before assisting on a Lois Tarkanian layup to cut it to 47-43.
Yet again, it was Alvarez who stepped up when Carson needed.
The Senator junior picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, but head coach Doug Whisler opted to put guard in to start the fourth and it paid off.
After Douglas cut it to four, Alvarez got out on the break off a Kordonowy steal and sank a layup through contact.
On the Senators next offensive possession the roles reversed as Alvarez knocked a ball away, feeding Kordonowy for a bucket and taking Carson to a nine-point lead, 52-43.
“I told her ‘I need you out there,’” said Whisler. “She did a good job. We were happy with that.”
Kordonowy and Bouza ended the night with 18 points each while Alvarez finished with eight.
Taylynn Kizer got to the line for the Tigers and hit two free throws, but that was all Douglas managed over the final two minutes as a couple more trips to the free throw line for the Senators finished things off.
“We tried to change some things up,” said Douglas head coach Brian Mello. “It was a great learning moment, Carson played hard and they’re a great team.”
Both teams have relied heavily on their defenses this season, but it was the offense that took over the opening quarters.
After a Bouza layup made it 15-14 Carson, Senator guard Abby Golik hit a deep 3-pointer in front of the Douglas bench to give Carson an 18-14 edge as the end of the first quarter drew near.
Douglas trailed 20-14 after the opening quarter, but rallied with eight straight points to start the second quarter.
Tarkanian started and ended the run with triples from in front of the Senator student section to catapult the Tigers back in front 22-20.
The two teams continued to go back and forth until the fourth quarter.
Kizer ended the night with a team-high 21 points for Douglas while Tarkanian added 10.
Carson honored its four seniors before the game for Senior Night as Lily Bouza, Camryn Quilling, Emma McCoy and Bella Kordonowy played their last game on the Senators’ home floor.
“Those seniors have meant everything. They were emotional before the game. I was emotional before the game,” said Whisler. “I’ve been coaching them since they were 12. I don’t even know how to put it into words. I love those girls.”
UP NEXT: Both squads hit the road for the 4A Northern Regional tournament, starting Tuesday.
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