Carson boys win at Damonte Ranch |

Carson boys win at Damonte Ranch

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – The first road win of the season for the Carson boys basketball team couldn’t have come at a better time.

With Hug and Reno separating themselves from the rest of the Sierra League pack, there remains a five-team slugfest ahead for the final two spots and a berth in the Northern 4A regional championships.

Following its rugged 47-43 win over the Mustangs at Damonte Ranch High School on Tuesday, Carson has its destiny in its own hands with four league games remaining. The Senators will play two home games against teams it has lost to (North Valleys and Reno), and two on the road against teams it has already beaten (South Tahoe and Wooster).

“That was an incentive for the guys,” said Carson coach Bruce Barnes of the Senators’ playoff hopes. “Our backs are against the wall. We need to win games – it doesn’t matter who we play. We have to find a way to win.”

Carson did just that and smooth-shooting junior guard Zach Weismann scored a game-high 15 points and spark-plug senior guard Adam Houghton added 12 more as the Senators improved to 4-6 in league, 10-14 overall.

“Carson did a nice job. They were well prepared in the first half,” said Torry Sheets, the Mustangs’ head coach. “We had too many spurts where we went too long without scoring. We were lackadaisical. We were real passive with the basketball.”

The victory over Damonte Ranch avenged a 54-42 home loss to the Mustangs on Jan. 10 and gave the Senators some much-needed momentum heading into Friday’s home game with North Valleys.

Carson, which lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, nonetheless had a good night defensively, limiting 6-foot-4 forward Chris Carlson to 10 points (Carlson scored 16 in the first meeting) and guard Jorge Diaz to five (Diaz scored 13 the first time). Josh Buck, a 6-foot-7 forward , had a team-high 15 points for the Mustangs.

The Senators had a 28-26 advantage at halftime and after a Kelton Hall jumper tied it up, Carson went on a 10-0 run – capped by a Weismann layup – for a 38-28 lead with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Carlson, playing without a nose guard following surgery to protect a recently broken nose, scored five of his eight fourth-quarter points (including a long three and a layup following a steal) to draw the Mustangs to within three at 38-35.

Following a Buck dunk to draw Damonte Ranch within one, senior guard Kevin Brush drove to the hoop for a layup to make it 40-37, ending a 6 minute, 42-second scoring drought for the Senators.

After the Mustangs’ bench was hit with a technical foul, Carson freshman Matt Rutledge hit one of his two free throws to give the Senators a four-point cushion with 3:17 to go, but Damonte went on a 5-0 run to take the lead at 42-41.

A Weismann layup put Carson up again and after Diaz fouled Houghton, the senior coverted one of his two free throws to make it a 44-42 game with 32 seconds to go.

A Carlson free throw drew the Mustangs within one, but Houghton iced the game with two free throws after Carlson fouled him.

“Our backs were against the wall,” said Houghton, who was 5-of-8 from the line overall and converted 4-of-6 in the fourth quarter. “We needed this game. We always fight until the end.

“We brought in a lot of energy this time. We didn’t have it last time (against the Mustangs) and we came in flat, but we came through tonight. Tonight we showed what we can do and came through with the win.”

Weismann said the key to the victory was doing some homework on the Mustangs.

“They run a 3-2 zone and we knew the corner shots would be open,” Weismann said. “We had to keep them spread out and get some open shots and knock them down.”

Weismann said the Senators made some adjustments following a rash of turnovers (and a scoring drought).

“They came out at the end with (a) man (defense) and pressured us,” Weismann said. “We turned the ball over, but we calmed down and took over the game and spread (Damonte’s defense) out.”

Now Carson has to find a way to stop North Valleys, which thumped the Senators 77-65 in their first meeting Jan. 20. Bryan Coursey scored 34 points and Archie Kovich added 26 and the Panthers had a 50-point second half in the win.

“We have to find a way to stop Coursey and Kovich,” Barnes said. “We know about their style of play. We have to try and play our style. It’s a game we need to have. Everything’s still there (for the playoffs). We have four games to go. The last two spots are wide open.”

The Carson-North Valleys game begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Morse Burley Gym.