Carson boys basketball’s comeback effort falls just shy
Senators wrap-up turnaround season with 11 wins after bowing out of postseason play
RENO – Down 28 points at the half against the top team from the High Desert League, Carson High boys basketball could have folded up shop and accepted its fate.
Instead the Senators pieced together a 16-1 third quarter before ultimately falling 57-47 in the first round of the Class 4A Northern Region tournament to top-seeded Spanish Springs.
The loss brings Carson’s season to a close with an 11-15 record after the Senators first playoff appearance since 2017.
“It’s a statement to the team and what type of kids Dre (Hoff) and I coach,” said Carson head coach Jordan Glover. “This group clicked and they got ticked off.”
Starting the comeback
Spanish Springs showed why it was the No. 1 seed in the High Desert league in the early going, posting 42 points in the opening half on 16 made shots.
Going into the intermission Carson had only managed to attempt 18 shots from the floor, sinking six of them and trailed 42-14.
“I went in there and said we needed to forget the score,” said Glover. “We have to tell everybody that’s not who we are in the first half.”
Out of the intermission, the Senators looked like a new team.
Brandon ‘Sunshine’ Graunke assisted on a Nathan Smothers bucket before scoring one of his own to open the half.
A couple possessions later, Joey Summers – who finished with a team-high 20 points – earned a trip to the free throw line for an and-one after driving through the lane and sinking a floater through contact.
Smothers followed with another basket before Summers deposited a step-back triple in front of the Senator bench.
On the next trip down the floor, Smothers swiped away a Cougar possession before finding Summers yet again from beyond-the-arc.
Summers’ third triple of the evening closed the third quarter with Carson on a 16-1 run, slicing the deficit to 43-30.
“We had to go out there and scrap,” Glover said. “We weren’t complacent.”
Defensively, after struggling to contain the Cougars in the first half, the Senators settled in and kept Spanish Springs to tough shots from outside of the paint.
Spanish Springs forward Cordell Stinson hammered home a dunk to start the fourth quarter in what felt like a confidence-switching moment for the Cougars.
However, Smothers and Summers went back to business getting Carson a quick five points and bringing the Senators within 12, 47-35, early in the final quarter.
Parsa Hadjighasemi hit a corner 3-pointer to bring Carson within 11 points before Graunke made two terrific passes into the lane.
Both Graunke passes found junior power forward Alex Robinson in the post and after his second layup, Carson found itself within striking distance, trailing 51-44 with 2:16 to play.
However, a couple of offensive rebounds and interior buckets from the Cougars were enough to squash the Carson comeback effort just short.
“We made a statement. We got defensive stops. It’s probably the best 16 minutes we’ve played in a little bit,” said Glover.
Spanish Springs’ Trey Hummel and Stinson each scored 17 points for the Cougars while Mason Whittaker added 14.
Building on the finish
Holding onto confidence after a strong comeback effort may not last nine months, but Glover couldn’t have been more pleased with the fight his team showed with its season on the line.
The Senators will lose seniors Camdyn Meikrantz and Smothers, who scored 10 points in his final game, to graduation in the spring.
“They’re leaving a legacy and we have big shoes to fill,” said Glover of his seniors.
“We have guys who probably want it now more than they did nine months ago. And nine months ago we were talking about playing a game like this, in this environment.”
Finishing with nine more wins than a season ago left Glover ecstatic about the end of the current season and what might be waiting to frighten some teams come next winter.
“I am above and beyond pleased with my group and the effort they made,” said Glover. “Every game there was probably a quarter we played terrible, but the other three quarters we had a fight and it earned us 11 wins. … That’s a big statement and that’s a big thing.”