Carson hoops coming along nicely |

Carson hoops coming along nicely

Darrell Moody

Carlos Mendeguia, Carson High’s first-year head basketball coach, likes what he sees from his inexperienced squad after the first week of the season.

Despite only having a couple of practices with the entire team because of the late entry by several football players, the Senators posted a 2-1 record at the 35th annual Carson Lions/Capital City Classic during the weekend.

“I’m really pleased, considering how many practices we’ve had,” Mendeguia said after his Senators dropped a 53-50 thriller to Damonte Ranch in the championship game.

In other games, Sparks clamed third place with a 57-39 win over Dayton, Central Valley claimed the consolation title with an easy 55-35 win over South Tahoe and Wooster downed Reed in the seventh-place game 63-59.

The victory by Damonte was its third straight in the tournament, but Carson made the Mustangs work extremely hard for every point.

The bright spot in the game was Carson’s defense. The Senators held Jeff Turk and John Carlson, the Mustangs’ top two scorers to a combined 19 points. Both players were averaging more than 20 coming into the game.

Mendeguia isn’t surprised that Carson’s defense is ahead of its offense right now. Offense takes a lot of timing which you get through practice. Defense is all about effort, and the Senators are giving every ounce of energy they have on that side of the floor. Shooting will be the last thing to come for the football players.

Carson got off to a slow start, as Damonte Ranch buried three straight 3-pointers en route to an early 10-2 lead.

However, the Senators tightened up their zone defense and actually went ahead 21-19 on a free-throw line jump shot by Austin Pacheco before O’Keefe Hall buried a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Damonte a 22-21 lead at half.

“Once we settled in, I think we did a good job,” Mendeguia said. “Turk had scored 27 a couple of times and he’s a very physical player. Carlson can hurt you inside and outside. We were focusing more on Turk and trying to play Carlson straight up.”

Damonte coach Torrey Sheets admitted that the zone defense bothered his team a bit.

“We haven’t spent a lot of time working against a zone,” he said. “We’ll have to get back in the gym and shore up our zone attack. We spent more time attacking a man-to-man defense because that’s what we usually see.”

The Senators put together a nice 10-3 run over a 3 1/2-minute span to wipe out a 27-23 deficit and take a 33-30 lead with 2:16 left in the third. Chance Quilling, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, had two buckets in that surge. Rafe King, Matt Nolan and Dylan Sawyers added a hoop each.

Kyle Daugherty tied the game on a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but Nolan, an all-tournament selection, hit a runner to give Carson a 35-33 lead after three.

The teams stayed even for the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, but Damonte went on a 10-2 run to take a 50-41 lead with 2:11 left in the game.

Many teams would have thrown in the towel. Carson didn’t.

A Quilling putback, two free throws by King and a jump shot by Nolan closed the game to 50-47, as Damonte turned the ball over four straight times.

Bridgman made it 51-47 with a free throw, but Nolan nailed a 3-pointer to make it 51-50 with 17 seconds left. Two more free throws made it 53-50 with 13 seconds left.

Carson had a chance to tie, but the Senators’ Chance Quilling missed a shot with 1 second left.

Mendeguia said the last shot didn’t pan out like he had planned.

“We were trying to set up Rafe,” Mendeguia said. “We wanted to get the ball to Matt, and we wanted Rafe to run the baseline and get to the corner and take the shot. The play didn’t develop like we wanted.”

Sparks had a relatively easy time with Dayton in the third-place game. The Railroaders scored 14 of the game’s first 16 points to build an early double-digit lead. Sparks had a double-digit lead the entire time in the final 21 minutes of the game.

Tyler Firestone didn’t play, and Dylan Taylor, an all-tournament selection, played off and on en route to a 3-point performance. It was a disappointing performance by the Dust Devils. Coach Jason Santos admitted that the Friday loss to Carson may have taken a toll on his players not to mention some injuries.

“I started some different guys today,” Santos said. “I was trying to get everybody in today. There was a lack of execution. We didn’t show up today.”

A 13-5 Sparks run gave the Railroaders a 30-18 lead at the half. Cody Yeater had a trey and Adan Gomez a three-point play in that stretch for Dayton.

A 12-3 run to open the second half stretched Sparks’ lead to 20, 41-21 with 3:56 left in the third quarter.

Brian Morgan led Sparks with 14 and Xavier Rodriguez added 13. Gomez, who was Dayton’s most consistent player in the tourney, finished with 10 points.

Central Valley had a surprisingly easy time against South Tahoe, easily outscoring the Vikings 42-19 through the first three quarters.

Carlos Mancasola, an all-tournament selection, led Central with 19 points and fellow all-tournament selection Christian Spaschak finished with nine. Jacob Stowell led South Tahoe with nine points.

J.J. Harloff scored 20 points and Deshawn Pughsley added 11 to lead Wooster past the Raiders, who were the only team not to win a game in the event. Reed played the tournament without seven players, who were still playing football – including quarterback A.J. Silva. The Raiders won’t be at full strength until later in the week.