Carson boys fall short against Huskies
Appeal Sports Writer
The Carson Senators boys basketball team was in a familiar position entering its Sierra League opener against the Reno Huskies: an undersized squad playing the role of underdog.
And although they eventually lost to Reno, 60-45, Tuesday at Morse Burley Gym, the Senators were anything but underachievers, coming back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Carson, now 4-2 overall, trailed 35-21 following a 7-0 run by Reno, with 6 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Helped by the ejection of 6-foot-8 Olek Czyz at the end of the first half, Carson began an 18-2 run on the first of three 3-pointers in a 1:48 span by senior guard Caleb Carter, whose last trey cut the score to 35-32.
A putback by forward Rob Valerius on a miss by Matt Rutledge drew the Senators within a point before a Zak Smith layup made it 37-34 in favor of Reno.
Rutledge nailed a three to tie it and freshman Brian Barnes scored on a baseline drive to put Carson on top 39-37.
James Kerrivan nailed a 3-pointer to give the Huskies back the lead – 40-39 – to end the quarter.
“I thought we followed our game plan for 28 minutes,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “Then in a two-and-a-half minute spurt we let them jump on us. Ultimately, that cost us a chance to win the ballgame.”
After Reno built a 44-39 lead on a pair of layups by Cavin Hill and a Chris Zumtobel, Carson’s 5-foot-11 junior forward Paul Cagle hit a pair of free throws to make it 44-41 with 5:32 to go in the game.
Hill and junior point guard Austin Morgan added a pair of layups to put Reno back up by seven before Cagle converted two more free throws to close the gap to 48-43, but that’s as close as Carson could get.
Morgan, who scored a game-high 17 points, and Smith, who added eight, each scored four points in the ensuing 11-0 run to end any possibility of a Carson upset.
“You better be ready when you come down here,” Reno coach Kyle Schellin said. “Coach Barnes is a great coach. He always has his team ready to play. They took away from what we wanted to do on offense. We had to make some adjustments with Olek out. Some kids stepped up. That’s what it’s about.”
Czyz, a Duke signee, drew his first technical foul after Cagle fouled him near the basket. Czyz had to be restrained by teammates as he got into a yelling match with Carson’s David Eller.
Czyz drew his second technical and the automatic ejection after hanging onto the rim on a thunderous dunk with 2 seconds remaining in the first half.
Brian Barnes hit a pair of free throws to end the half with Carson trailing 28-19.
“Czyz got undercut on an alley-oop,” Schellin said. “In a tense atmosphere, with fans and kids talking to each other, he’s got to walk away. He didn’t. That second ‘T’ I didn’t like. He knows he’s got to get off the rim. He dunks all of the time. He knows by now he shouldn’t (hang on the rim).”
Schellin credited Smith and Kerrivan – who added a 3-pointer – for coming in and doing the job in place of Czyz, who finished with six points.
Barnes said his players weren’t intimidated by the talented Czyz.
“We look at him like every other player,” Barnes said. “He’s a good high school player. There’s a lot of good high school players out there. But any kid that’s going to Duke is obviously pretty good.”
Cagle and Carter – who had five 3-pointers – each had 15 points to lead Carson. Barnes added eight for the Senators, who trailed 14-8 after one quarter.
“I’m happy with this team,” Barnes said. “They’re executing our game plan. They’re taking what we learn on film and taking it to the court. Now we have to make it happen for the full 32 minutes.”
Reno switched up from a 2-2-1 to a 1-2-2 defense, pressuring the Senators, but not causing them to lose their composure.
“We were prepared for it,” Barnes said. “I though we did a good job with their pressure, except for a few breakdowns on defense. We were there at the last four minutes – that’s what we want. We didn’t shoot well as a team.”
Carson was 14-of-54 from the floor and Reno was 24-of-48.
The Senators should get a boost by Thursday, when they open Carson Lions Capital Classic play against Fernley Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Morse Burley Gym.
“I’m under the impression he can go,” Barnes said of Will Holbert, who is returning from lower extremity lateral compartment syndrome, an injury he suffered as a member of Carson’s football team. “With him in there, we’ll be a little better on our rotation.”