Carson hoop squads enjoy success | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson hoop squads enjoy success

Darrell Moody

The 2009-2010 will go down as a successful year for Carson High’s boys and girls basketball teams.

Both posted winning records. The boys were 19-9 with a tie for second place in the Sierra League, while the girls were 17-11 with a third-place finish in the Sierra League.

“We won a few games early, and that helped us feel good,” said girls coach Todd Ackerman. “If you had told me we’d win 17 games after losing seven players, I’d be surprised. The girls put in a lot of hard work and battled.

“We can be better. We have to understand what we’re supposed to do. Our young ones will be a year older and that will be huge. They had to play a lot of minutes.”

It will be interesting to see if Ackerman simplifies things next season. At times this year, players would forget where they were supposed to be on the floor, making the team look out of sync at both ends of the floor. When that is happening 15 or 16 games into the season, it means that information isn’t getting through or players are unable to grasp it either because it’s too complicated or they aren’t paying attention.

The good news is that the Carson girls lose just two seniors from this year’s team – Gina Bianchi and Yvonne Hollett. Bianchi was a consistent double-figure scorer for the Senators the past two seasons.

Bianchi’s absence will force coach Todd Ackerman to replace his main playmaker for the second straight season. A year ago, Ackerman had to replace point guard Brandi Vega.

Junior Whitney Nash, who shot over 40 percent from beyond the 3-point mark while averaging over 11 points a game, will be the top returnee next season. Whether she can be the team leader and go-to girl remains to be seen.

Nash, a natural shooter, needs to be able to drive the ball to the basket and to create off the dribble. If she can do that on a regular basis, it will create even more space so she can get off 3-pointers and she’ll be very dangerous. She also needs to use her right hand more, something that a good spring and summer of work will fix.

Expectations also will be high for point guard Elayna Shine, who just finished her first year as a starter. She had some up-and-down moments, averaging 5.4 points and shooting a respectable 36 percent from the floor. She has the tools and the ability to develop consistency.

Natalie Stevens, Eliza Matley and Kate Schulz all had moments where they shined. They need to experience more of those moments next year. Stevens, not known for her offense, had a couple of breakout games last year at the offensive end. Matley also hit some key shots. Schulz’s length is help at the defensive end and who can forget the big 3-pointer she hit in the road win over Damonte Ranch.

Tiana McAllister-Daggs and Lisa Yamamto split time at center. McAllister-Daggs is a rugged player inside and led the team in rebounds. A knee injury sidelined her the last two weeks of the season. Yamamoto is an intelligent player who has a nice touch around the basket.

Coach Bruce Barnes had only two returning starters on the boys squad this year – Brian Barnes and Pat Smith – but the rapid development of sophomore Andrew Johnson and the defensive play of seniors Josh Peacock and Brennan Shaffer were huge.

I was surprised as anybody that the Senators played so well during the Sierra League season, and a big reason for their success was their tenacity on defense. Except for the last two Manogue games, Carson made everybody else work hard for points. The Senators, who lost seven players to graduation the previous year, had a certain toughness to them, a trait that all Senator teams have had under Barnes.

Shaffer, Smith, Peacock, Ean Witter, Kevin Kurek and Ian Gunn graduate this spring, and Barnes will have to fill three starting spots among returnees Matt Cooper. Trey Jensen, Chris Steele and Tyler Collins plus JV stars Ty Keefer and Matt Nolan. Keefer would have been on the varsity squad this year as a sophomore, according to Barnes, but he didn’t play summer basketball.

Cooper and Jensen played major minutes this year and had some good games. They both appear ready to take on bigger roles.

Johnson, Carson’s baby-faced point guard, was the Senators’ best player during the league season. He had a knack for getting into passing lanes and getting steals which usually led to easy baskets at the other end, and he was a decent 3-point shooter. However, Johnson snuck up on a lot of teams this year, but that won’t happen next year. Johnson needs to get into the weight room and get stronger.

Brian Barnes came off major back surgery last March, which caused him to lose 25 pounds and some strength, too. He missed spring and summer workouts and got off to a slow start. He got a lot more defensive attention this year, and he just didn’t seem as comfortable on the floor. No doubt he’ll be working on his shooting in the offseason and I expect him to be much better next year.

What Barnes needs is a couple of defensive stoppers to replace Shaffer and Peacock. Defense may hold the key to who wins one of the three remaining starting spots next year.