As if winning in the “Grizzlies’ Cave” – the Galena High gymnasium – wasn’t already a difficult enough task, the Carson High boys basketball team will now have to beat Galena without a 100-percent Lee Biddlecome if the team is to advance in the Northern 4A Zone playoffs.
The Senators (8-4, 17-10) play at Galena High (7-3, 18-10) tonight at 7 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs. Tonight’s game is the most crucial of the season, as a win would guarantee the Senators a berth in the state 4A playoffs next week while a loss would end the Carson season.
Biddlecome, the Senators’ high-scoring, 6-foot-10 starting power forward, suffered a deep muscle bruise to his calf on Sunday when he was pinned between two cars in a fast-food restaurant parking lot. His playing status will not be known until game time.
According to Biddlecome, he was talking to the driver of one car when another vehicle backed up quickly and pinned his calf between the two vehicles.
“I didn’t have enough time to react,” said Biddlecome, set to attend Bradley University on an athletic scholarship next year.
Misty Harris, the Carson High athletic trainer, remained optimistic about Biddlecome’s calf improving enough to play in tonight’s game.
“There is no swelling, which is good,” Harris said. “Without swelling, the chance of recovering is greatly increased.”
Biddlecome, who has also been hampered by inflamed knee cartilage in recent games, spent most of the Senators practice on Monday receiving treatment for his injury. He did shoot around with the rest of the team as practice drew to a close.
“It’s a big game,” Biddlecome said. “I’ll most likely tough it out.”
Carson coach Tom Andreasen said he plans on Biddlecome being available for tonight’s game.
“I think he’ll go, but maybe not as long as he had been playing,” Andreasen said.
If Carson can win tonight, the Senators would return home on Friday night to face either Reno or Sparks at 4:15 p.m. in the zone semifinals. Andreasen said that playing on the road for their first playoff game is not – for this year’s Senator team – a bad thing.
“This team’s not scared to play away – it seems we’ve played better on the road this season,” Andreasen said.
While it’s true Carson has put in some good performances on the road this season, it’s also true that the Galena Cave has been an especially brutal place for the Senators to play recently. Carson lost to the Grizzlies 49-39 in Reno on Dec. 14 after falling behind by 16 points at halftime; in the opening round of the ’99 zone playoffs, Galena defeated the Senators 58-32 on the strength of a 34-point performance by Lance Buoncristiani.
Buoncristiani is now at Idaho, but the Grizzlies have a host of other players who have stepped up this season to fill in the void caused by Buoncristiani’s graduation, most notably sophomore guard Joe Heaton (6-3, 170) and senior forward Mike Atkinson (6-4, 200). But just stopping those two players won’t guarantee Carson a victory.
“Galena is not, by any means, a two-man team,” Andreasen said. “(Sam) Sikes, (Chase) Altom, (Travis) Williams – they all can hurt you. They’ve got a lot of depth on their bench.”
Galena coach Tom Maurer said both teams’ records can be thrown out for this game.
“It’s not about the past, it’s about who’s prepared and who’s willing to go the extra mile,” said Maurer, who has a 7-4 record against Carson in his eight years as the Grizzlies’ coach. “Carson has dramatically changed since we played them in December. They’re well-rounded in scoring and have developed into a team. (From players) One to five, Carson’s got the best team in zone.”
Basketball notes – The Carson High girls team will host Lowry High on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the girls’ zone playoffsexcept for Biddlecome, the Carson boys are in good shape. Kevin Cote is not yet 100 percent following a bout with mono, but he practiced MondayMaurer had a 256-26 record while coaching at Carson Middle School.