Carson girls basketball preview: Experienced Senators working on fitness |

Carson girls basketball preview: Experienced Senators working on fitness

Darrell Moody

Carson High’s girls basketball team is doing plenty of running in the early stages of practice, much more than they did last year at this time.

Coach Todd Ackerman said he’s not running because the Senators are going to become a running, up-tempo team. He’s running because he didn’t like the fitness of his team last season.

“I want us to be in better shape,” said Ackerman, whose team opens the 2010-2011 season at 6 p.m. Tuesday against perennial powerhouse Reno in a Northern 4A crossover game. “I want us to shoot the ball at the end of the game and have some legs left. I don’t want everything to be short. I’m not looking at us as a constant fast-breaking team.”

Carson could run when it had somebody like Brandi Vega in the lineup, but those days are gone. Carson has some talented athletes, but there are no lightning-quick players on this year’s roster.

What Ackerman does have is a lot of returning players, nine in fact. Back from last year’s squad which posted a 16-11 record are second-leading scorer senior Whitney Nash (11.3 points per game), junior Tiana McAllister-Daggs (3.7), junior Eliza Matley (3.1), senior Natalie Stevens (3.3), senior Lisa Yamamoto (2.3), sophomore Madison Saarem (1.1), senior Ashley Saarem (0.5), senior Elayna Shine (5.4) and senior Jazmyn Stokes (1.1).

“It’s nice to have nine players back,” Ackerman said. “In the past we’ve only had four or five. The good thing is that everybody coming back got quite a bit of time last year.”

Newcomers on the varsity squad this year are freshman Savannah Smith, junior Emily Collins, junior Mary Longero, junior Kaitlyn Holmes and junior Kaiulani Karosich.

The biggest loss is Gina Bianchi, who led the team in scoring at 12.7 per game. Kate Schulz has opted not to return to the team this year.

“I don’t see anybody replacing her,” Ackerman admitted. “As a group we have to replace her.”

Nash will undoubtedly be expected to carry a little more of the load. The left-hander was 50 for 118 on 3-point field goals and she shot 39 percent overall from the floor.

“I’m excited (for the season),” Nash said. “I’ve been working on driving to the basket. It’s something that I haven’t had a a lot of confidence doing.”

Shine, who is expected to start at the point guard position again, should be able to better her scoring average of a year ago. The same holds true for McAllister-Daggs, who injured a knee late last year and has that leg in a knee brace now.

“Elayna and Whitney have been scoring the ball well,” Ackerman said. “Tiana has to step up and score this year. We have to get points from everybody.

“As far as I know Tia’s knee is fine. She’s been practicing everyday. She hasn’t missed any drills because of it.”

Other than Shine, McAllister-Daggs and Nash, Ackerman isn’t quite sure what is starting lineup will be. A lot of it depends on what the team may be trying to do in certain games.

“It depends on if we want more speed or want to go bigger,” Ackerman said. “We can put two post-type players in there or we can go with a four-guard grouping.”

Carson made the playoffs last year with a 9-5 Sierra League mark. The format is different than last year. There still are two leagues, but Sierra League teams will play each other twice and then play High Desert teams once. In the new format, the High Desert-Sierra crossover games now count in the standings.

Ackerman hates it.

“You can go undefeated on your side, lose all the crossover games and finish in third place,” he said. “That’s not right.”

Ackerman said that Manogue and Galena are favored on the Sierra side. Galena returns Emily Burns, who recently signed to play at Nevada next year.

“We have an opportunity be right there (for a playoff berth),” Ackerman said. “It depends what comes out of Wooster and Damonte Ranch not to mention Douglas.”