Carson boys lose edge in playoff race |

Carson boys lose edge in playoff race

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – It was a game that would have given Carson High a huge leg up in the chase for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Sierra League.

However, Carson didn’t bring its A game to the party, and dropped an 81-67 decision to the Archie Kovich-led North Valleys Panthers Friday night.

Kovich, who missed his first three shots from the field, went 16-for-32 from the floor and finished with 41 points, including six 3-point field goals.

The loss dropped the teams into a tie for fourth place at 5-6 with three games left to play. Carson has South Tahoe, Reno and Wooster left on its schedule. North Valleys has Reno, South Tahoe and Damonte Ranch.

Carson’s key numbers weren’t brutal, but weren’t good either. Unofficially, the Senators shot 39.6 from the floor, were outrebounded 50-43 and turned the ball over 22 times. The latter stat is usually enough to lose most games period.

“We’ve been getting beat so bad on the offensive glass,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “I counted nine in the first half. It’s something we need to get better at.

“We had a nice run at the end of the first half. We had a chance to tie the game and we turned the ball over.”

Indeed. A 14-3 Carson surge had all but wiped out a 13-point North Valleys lead. Treys by Zach Rispin and Zach Weismann (18 points) started the surge, and made it 23-16. Will Holbert scored on two layups in the last 2 minutes 22 seconds, Weismann added another bucket and Paul Cagle scored from the inside. Holbert’s second bucket made it 26-24.

North Valleys turned the ball over and so did Carson, leading to a buzzer-beating lay-up by Justin Nickles, who finished with eight points to make it 28-24. Kovich had 15 points, but needed 17 shots to get them. His shot selection at times bordered on brutal

That was part of the reason Carson got back into the game was because North Valleys, despite having a nice lead, kept playing at a frenetic tempo. The Panthers went a little cold and paid the price.

“North Valleys plays the same way (all the time),” Barnes said. “They want to get up and down. If they are ahead they play the same way. If they are behind they play the same way.”

NV coach Kyle Cerfoglio didn’t disagree.

“We’ve done that all year,” he said. “We get a lead and let them (the other team) get back into it. I thought we had a chance to put them away or at least get a bigger lead.”

Holbert, who finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, scored 17 seconds into the second half to cut the lead to 28-26. That was as close as the Senators would get.

North Valleys put together a 12-3 run for a 40-29 lead. Jason Lyons started the barrage with a 3-pointer and Jessie Bajwit, who had 10 points and 16 rebounds, followed with a putback.

After Weismann drained a 3-pointer from the left baseline, Kovich scored on a lay-up after a Carson turnover and Craig Davidson followed with a lay-up in transition. Kovich ended the surge with a 3-pointer after Carson failed to convert two shots on its previous possession, including one from point-blank range.

“We had a tough time converting inside,” Barnes said. “They aren’t that big. We should be able to get the ball in there.”

Cerfoglio said that the third-quarter surge was big.

“The first couple of minutes were real big,” the NV coach said. “I think it disheartened them a little bit.”

Carson stayed even the rest of the third quarter, but fell victim to a 21-7 run in the first three-plus minutes of the final period. Kovich had nine in that span, and Davidson added five points.

Barnes said he never considered going zone because of the ability of Kovich, Davidson and Lyons.

“We played a little box and one on him,” Barnes said.

The Panthers took some 3-pointers from nearly 30 feet. Those are the type of shots that look great if they go down, but make a team look stupid if they don’t.

Things got so bad that Kovich even banked one in for a 3-pointer midway through the final period to make it 79-54. Now why he was even in the game seemed strange. The Senators scored the last 10 points of the game, two buckets coming on putbacks by Caleb Carter.

“It didn’t really bother me that he (Kovich) was in there,” Barnes said. “If it’s that important to have more points (from him) that’s a personal decision by their coach.”