High School playoffs: Reed’s defensive pressure hurts Carson girls | NevadaAppeal.com

High School playoffs: Reed’s defensive pressure hurts Carson girls

Justin Lawson
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL | NEVADA APPEAL

RENO ” For three quarters Tuesday the No. 3-seeded Carson Senators dominated Reed on its home court. They hit every three-pointer, boxed out and got rebounds and watched the Raiders two best players miss shot after shot.

Then, as if Reed coach Sara Schopper had an on-switch next to the bench, Reed quelled Carson’s run in the fourth quarter. The No. 2-seeded Raiders (17-7) used a suffocating defense and finally began to hit shots as they came back from a 10-point deficit for a 65-61 victory in the first -round of the Northern 4A regional tournament.

“We knew they were going to make a run on us,” Carson coach Todd Ackerman said. “It’s how we were going to respond to that. For the most part, we responded really pretty well.”

The Senators (16-13) held a 48-38 lead with 7 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game, but Reed reinstituted the full-court defense that has been its bread and butter all season. The pressure got the Senators out of rhythm and helped lead to transition points for the Raiders as they went on a 9-0 run in 1:27.

“They’re a great defensive pressure team so they gave us a lot of trouble trying to get it up court and we just started rushing,” said Brandi Vega, who finished with 18 points. “We needed to calm down, it happens in the game.”

The Senators had been nearly lights-out from beyond the arc, but hit just one fourth-quarter three-pointer before hitting two more in the final seconds with the game already decided.

Carson guard Gina Bianchi had 15 points in the first half, but finished with a team-high 20 points as the Raiders didn’t allow her to get in rhythm in the second half.

“The long ball kept us in the game and it needed to,” Ackerman said. “We relied on it a little bit too much instead of attacking the basket.”

Bianchi hit her last basket of the game with 4:50 remaining when she dropped in a three-pointer from the left corner to push Carson’s lead back to four at 51-47. The lead didn’t last much longer as former Carson star Danielle Peacon and Leilani Young combined for the next five points.

Carson took back a one-point lead, but Micah Walker, who missed most of the season with a knee injury, drove down the lane for a layup to give Reed the lead for good at 56-54 with 3:07 remaining.

Peacon finished with 21 points, while senior point guard Erica McKenzie led all scorers with 23 points. The duo, though, struggled for much of the night until the fourth quarter and nearly ended McKenzie’s high school career early. Reed is expected to vie for the regional championship.

“Every team right now in the playoffs are going to play their best game, you can’t afford not to,” Schopper said. “They came out here going for us. They were, what, 80 percent shooting? They were attacking, they were kicking, they were knocking off some big shots.

“We didn’t come out and hit the shots that we usually hit. I mean, there’s some nights that Erica’s stroking it from the volleyball line, but tonight we’re not.”