Carson boys young in basketball |

Carson boys young in basketball

Not a whole lot of size. Plenty of perimeter players. Anyone familiar with Northern Nevada boys basketball over the last few years can immediately deduce that’s a description of Carson High.

Carson will feature another small, but athletic team as it heads into a new season. The Senators will also look to return to the Northern 4A playoffs after failing to advance to the post season a year ago.

They’ll have to do it with a young team as Carson returns only two players – seniors Kyle Bacon and Brian Welch – who had significant playing time last year.

“We’re pretty young this year,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “It’s really new guys from the JV and freshmen squads.”

It’s a young, talented squad that should mirror teams of the recent past. “We’ve got a lot of perimeter players,” Barnes said. “We don’t have a lot of size. We have a lot of scrappy kind of guys that play hard.

“The bulk of our rotation is going to come from guys new to the varsity. I like the young guys that we have. We have a pretty good nucleus.”

Barnes said he can go with nine different rotations that go nine to 10 players deep. Right now 9 or 10 players are fighting for five starting spots.

“We really don’t know who our starting five’s going to be,” Barnes said. “It’s wide open.”

The only players who are sure to start are Bacon and junior Adam Houghton, who will be the starting point guard. Houghton is out for one to two weeks with a knee injury.

The 6-2 Bacon is a shooting guard who also had to play quite a bit inside last year. Bacon will continue to be a swingman who plays inside and outside, but Barnes said he hopes to keep Bacon on the perimeter more this year.

Two other leading contenders to be starters will be Welch, another swing player, and 6-1 Steve Mandoki, who will be a post player. Two sophomores who will also receive considerable playing time ar 6-3 Bryce Crook and Tony Fagan.

There’s also 6-2 inside players Jake Jeffers and John Gradert. Crook, Jeffers, Gradert and Bacon are the tallest players on the team. “We have to talk someone into going inside,” Barnes said.

Other players who will be seeking playing time include junior small forward-wing Jack Jacquet and wing Kevin Brush, who could also see action at point guard. Brush is an outstanding athlete who played this fall with Carson’s Northern 4A champion soccer team.

Another outstanding athlete on the roster, who is arguable the best athlete in the school, is Tilor Smith. The senior is one of the state’s best long and triple jumpers. Others on the roster are backup point guard Jeremiah Teeter, a junior, and senior role player Murph Gardner.

Barnes said earning one of the top four qualifying spots into the playoffs from the Sierra League will be as tough as ever. Reno High and Douglas, who features 6-9 sophomore Keith Olson, will have a great deal of size and “Hug will be Hug,” Barnes said.

North Valleys will be tough as well, Barnes said. “It will be a dog fight,” he said.

Carson will open the season on Dec. 3 at the Douglas Tournament. The Senators will open with the tournament’s defending champion, Sac Joaquin Section power Laguna Creek from the Sacramento area, who will feature a guard being recruited on the Division I level. The Senators will also play Northern 4A power Reed in the Douglas event.

The Senators tough schedule will continue with the Reed Tournament where they will open with Lowell of San Francisco. Carson will host its Capital Classic Dec. 21-23. The schedule won’t become any easier as the Senators will play in the Las Vegas Holiday Inviational Dec. 27-30 where it will open with Southern 4A power Cheyenne.

“We’ll find out real early how much they need to improve,” Barnes said. “It’s going to take a while.

“They work real hard. It’s really competitive in practice. It makes practices exciting. They’re very coachable. I like this kind of team.”

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. Contact him at or 881-1214.