Senators execute at the end
Nevada Appeal News Service
MINDEN ” With the scored tied at 35 and 11 seconds remaining on the clock, it seemed that everyone in the gym knew that Carson’s Brandi Vega would get the ball in her hands Friday night.
All that was left to determine was where the Senators’ playmaker was going to go through it.
Indeed it was Vega who drove straight down the floor to draw the Douglas interior defense out before dishing a perfect bounce pass to Breanna Anderson just outside the key.
Anderson, who slid in from the wing, banked in a perfect lay-up with two seconds left on the clock to give the Senators a 37-35 victory over rival Douglas High in Minden on Friday night.
It was a play that coaches from both teams had plenty to say about after the game.
“We knew what would happen,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “What we really wanted to do coming out of that timeout there was double-team Vega and get her off the ball, but we didn’t get there. We went over it in practice, especially in a late-game situation, just the importance of getting her off the ball.
“We were a little high and tight on the wings and we just didn’t rotate over. That just happens sometimes.”
Carson coach Todd Ackerman said the play was executed perfectly.
“It was designed,” Ackerman said. “(Douglas post player Jessica) Waggoner really came, she had to come. We knew we had to draw her out, get a good bounce pass and that was what we were able to do. It came off pretty well.”
For as well as it finished, the play almost never developed. Vega took the in-bound pass with 11 seconds left, dribble toward center court and nearly lost the ball over the half line before regaining control and driving toward the basket. That whole exchange took nearly four seconds off the clock.
“It gets nervewracking, watching that clock tick down,” Ackerman said. “I get more nervous as a coach than I did as a player.”
Both teams, win or lose, were facing the situation of having to play one of the region’s top two teams in the first round of the playoffs next week. As it stands, Carson clinched the No. 3 seed out of the Sierra League with the win and will travel to Reed Tuesday. As the No. 4 seed, Douglas will travel to Reno.
“It really was a situation of win or lose, you pick your poison,” Ackerman said. “It’s a pride thing, the Carson-Douglas game. The girls really wanted to face Reed, so we’ll start preparing for them.”
Carson (10-4) will enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the region, having won its last seven games of the regular season. In fact, the Senators’ last loss came to Douglas in Carson City.
“We’ve been playing pretty well,” Ackerman “After the Douglas loss, we started talking about being able to sweep the second half of the season. We though we could do it if we got a couple of breaks and we did.
“This was really a great game to go into the tournament with. It’s a tournament atmosphere. Reed is a team that has a great post player and a great guard. When you look at the teams in our league, Manogue and Galena, you’re dealing with the same basic setup. We’ve played against that, now we just have to get in there and find a way.”
Christen said he was impressed with the Senators’ play.
“You can definitely argue that Carson is the best team in the Sierra League right now,” he said. “They’ve beaten us, Manogue and Galena in the last couple weeks. That’s a heck of a team. They are playing really well right now.
“Give them credit. He went with a small lineup tonight, they flew around and we couldn’t get into anything substantial.”
Carson took an early 10-4 lead in the game, but Douglas held the Senators scoreless during the next eight minutes of the game, building a 17-10 lead.
After trading baskets through the remainder of the first half, Carson saw its first 10 possessions of the second half end in either a turnover or a missed shot while Douglas ran its lead to 27-18. Carson’s Krista Mattice ended a seven-minute drought with a basket with 1:21 left in the third quarter and added a late basket to make it 29-22 Tigers heading into the fourth.
Carson outscored the Tigers 15-6 in the final period to claim the win. The score remained deadlocked at 35 for almost the entire final three minutes of the game before Anderson’s shot broke the stalemate, while the teams traded a total of eight turnovers.
Vega led the Senators with 13 points, Tiffany O’Day had six, Anderson and Mattice each had four, Gina Bianchi, Whitney Nash and Taylor Kaley each had three, Cassie Vondrak had two and Yvonne Hollet had one in the win.
Waggoner led the Tigers with 15, Ne’Jae Jackson had eight, Ally Freitas and Bri Burnside each had four and Jackie Harper and Katie Dry each had two in the loss.