Carson isn’t singing semifinal blues now |

Carson isn’t singing semifinal blues now

Dave Price

A banner on the west wall of Morse Burley Gymnasium reveals that Carson High School won zone girls basketball championships in 1980, then again in 1990.

Now in 2000, the Senators are in position to continue their title-by-decade trend after winning a 45-43 overtime thriller against Galena in the Northern 4A Zone Tournament semifinals before a crowd of more than 2,000 at Morse Burley on Friday night.

And for the first time in the last four years, Carson’s girls earned a win in the zone semifinals.

“We wanted to make a statement that we’re not a fourth-place team,” said junior forward Meghan Gradert, who scored two key baskets in overtime to help bring the Senators from behind. “This was so exciting … we can hardly wait for tomorrow.”

Carson (28-5) will take one more shot on its home floor at 5:15 p.m. today when it faces Reno in the zone finals. Galena (26-5), a zone finalist in 1999, plays McQueen in the third-place game today at 2 p.m.

“I don’t think those seniors were going to be denied,” said coach Paul Croghan, who had taken Carson to the 4A state tournament as a No. 4 seed in each of his three previous seasons at the helm. “They made up their minds – they were not going to state as a No. 4 seed. And now, they’re not going to be satisfied with taking second … and that would be a great way for them to go out.”

Not surprisingly, four-year starters Pam Williams and Alyson Thurman led the way for Carson. Williams scored 13 points, handed out three assists and grabbed 13 rebounds. Thurman scored 10 points to go with three steals and two assists.

“We believed in ourselves, and we did it as a team,” Thurman said. “The whole team won this game.”

Sophomore point guard Erin Stieber contributed 11 points, picked off three steals and even grabbed eight rebounds. Gradert added eight points and six rebounds. Megan Mulvaney also had seven rebounds, four on the offensive end.

Carson outrebounded Galena 43-25, an advantage Croghan felt was critical.

“Obviously that is a big stat, because they are big and they have pretty good athletes,” Croghan said. “I felt defense and rebounding were the big factors.”

The game saw six lead changes in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Galena took a 41-40 lead in overtime when Kirsten Drury scored on a putback, but the Senators came back when Gradert grabbed a loose ball (which had been deflected by Drury underneath the basket) and put in a bucket that gave the Senators a 42-41 lead with 2:15 left. Carson extended the lead to 44-41 when Williams dished to Gradert for a layup with 1:15 to go.

Earlier, Galena battled back from a nine-point deficit by scoring 12 unanswered points to end the third quarter and take a 29-26 lead. Kellie Burton scored six points during the run. Janelle Mack contributed one steal, one assist and a left-handed driving layup that cut Carson’s lead to 26-25.

Burton finished with 21 points to lead all scorers for the Grizzlies, 14 of which came in the second half, while freshman Joanna Hixon added eight points.

Reno 46, McQueen 41

The Lancers scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to make a furious comeback attempt, but the Huskies held off McQueen, the reigning zone champs, thanks to the huge lead Reno had built in the first half.

The Huskies defense was stifling in the first half and held McQueen to 11 first half points. Lorie LeMay scored six of her eight points in the second to give Reno a 13-point halftime lead, 24-11.

By the end of the third, Reno led by 17 points, but the Lancers outscored the Huskies 22-10 in the fourth – including 16 of the game’s final 20 points – to provide some tension for Reno, which last won zone in 1998.

Meghann Hackstaff led Reno with 10 points, including eight in the second half. McQueen’s Cristi Crofts led all scorers with 14 points.

Crofts scored nine of her points in the fourth to lead the McQueen comeback attempt.