Carson girls escape against Hug
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Against the Hug Hawks girls basketball team Saturday, Carson head coach Ric Garcia and his team nearly had to learn the hard way one of the oldest lessons in any sport: Never underestimate your opponent under any circumstances.
But the Lady Senators survived a scare and took a 64-62 overtime win over the Hawks at Hug High School to remain in second place in the Sierra League.
Senior Nicole Scott exploded for 33 points to lead Carson to the win.
After overcoming three 11-point deficits and trading the lead five times with the stubborn Hawks, it came down to Scott at the free throw line with 1 second remaining in regulation and Carson trailing 54-52.
Scott converted the first shot before third-year Hug coach Brian Farrow tried to ice her by calling a timeout. But Scott already had ice in her veins and calmly converted her second free throw to send it into overtime, where the Senators never trailed.
“That was a little bit (nerve-wracking), but I knew I had to make (the shots),” Scott said of her trip to the line. “You have to make the shots when it counts. I stayed focused on the (final) free throw and saw it going in in my mind. I had to make it.”
After having taken apart the Lady Hawks, 63-21, at Morse Burley Gym on Jan. 6, Garcia decided to open the game with his reserves which worked just fine during the first quarter.
The line of Christy Works, Sarah Evans, Anna Macquarie, Blaike King and Abby Rankl more than held their own and took a 9-5 advantage into the second quarter.
The 5-foot-8 Rankl – a sophomore – scored all eight of her points in the period and was dominant in the paint against the Hawks’ starters.
Garcia brought in his second line – Catherine Brekken, Hannah Works, Megan Kilty, Briana Dodge and Kaitlin Burroughs – but they ran into a buzz saw and gave up a 10-0 run to fall behind, 15-9.
In came Garcia’s starters – Rosella Nunez, Scott and Sinead McSweeney – but after six combined points from Scott and McSweeney closed the lead to 17-15, the wheels once again came off.
Hug parlayed a 9-1 run into a 26-18 halftime lead and after Vicky Vo converted all three of her free throws to open the third, the Hawks enjoyed their largest lead of the night at 29-18.
“It was a major coaching blunder,” Garcia said of his strategy. “The first group did their job. The second group came in and the lead went away. Then the third group couldn’t stop them either.”
Scott, however, played with a quiet fury and scored 14 of her points (including 6-of-6 from the line) in the third quarter. And after Kilty converted a pair of free throws and a basket by Christy Works, Carson closed the gap to 35-33.
Hug wasn’t about to give up and a pair of baskets by Moala Fakava and Zanovia Carter gave the Hawks a little breathing room and they took a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
“It was a fun game,” Farrow said. “It hasn’t gotten anymore exciting than that this year. I’m a little disappointed, but this is the proudest I’ve been of them this year. We were short three girls and we expected this to be a runaway game (for Carson). They stepped up and put everything they had into it.”
Kaneisha Jones led the Hawks with 20 points and Vo and Carter each added 12, but Hug fell to 2-7 in the Sierra League and 4-15 overall.
Carson improved to 7-2, 11-12. All of Kilty’s seven points came at the charity stripe, as did all of Nunez’s five points. Carson converted 28-of-34 free throws, while Hug was 20-of-24.
A pair of Scott jumpers gave Carson a 44-42 lead, which it tried to protect (with 2:48 remaining) by holding onto the ball on the perimeter. Vo fouled Kilty, who put the Senators up 46-42 with her free throws, but Jones hit a jumper and Momi Ke-a hit two free throws to tie the game, 46-46.
The lead went back-and-forth until overtime, where Burroughs’ pair of free throws would give the Senators the lead for good.
“I talked to the kids about never assuming someone’s at a level you think they are,” Garcia said. “They can rise to the occasion and get confidence. And confidence can create a monster. Hug gained confidence.
“I thought we lost it. We were down four and I thought, That’s it. We can’t come back. But we showed some resilience too. Nothing was ever safe. Hug kept coming back and we couldn’t stop their penetration.”
Scott said her team was overconfident.
“I think we just thought we’d come in and win,” Scott said. “We killed them last time. We came in thinking that we didn’t need to worry that much about them. It was an eye-opener for us. We have to come in and think it’s a tough game no matter who we play.”
Carson will have a chance to show it’s learned its lesson when it travels to Damonte Ranch on Tuesday. The Senators took a 48-32 win over the Mustangs Jan. 10 at Morse Burley Gym. The game begins at 5:15 p.m.