Johnson leads Carson boys past Galena
It had all the earmarks of a playoff game. Big, noisy crowd, physical play and a close game where every possession is important.
Carson sophomore Andrew Johnson was in his element. He likes the ball in his hands, and he makes no bones about it.
“I love that kind of game,” Johnson said. “The crowd gets me pumped.”
Johnson gave them plenty to be pumped about and sent them home happy by scoring 17 points to lead the Senators to a 44-35 win over Galena on Friday night at Morse Burley Gym.
Carson, which led from wire-to-wire, improved to 10-2 in Sierra League play, while, Galena dropped to 6-6. The Senators are now in sole possession of second place, one game ahead of Douglas, which lost to Manogue, 70-53.
“The school has developed a rivalry with Galena because of football,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “This was a good warm-up for the playoffs. The players can’t hear and have to make adjustments on their own.
“The crowd did a pretty good job juicing us up. I thought we played pretty well defensively, but we got hurt on the boards a little bit. Andrew out front is very difficult to guard.”
Galena certainly didn’t have anybody to stay in front of him without fouling. When Carson was trying to milk the clock, it was Johnson who did a lot of the ball handling.
The biggest lead of the game was eight points, 28-20, with 1 minutes, 53 seconds remaining. Carson built that lead by scoring six unanswered points, and it was Johnson who started the surge with two free throws.
After Michael Arciniega missed two free throws, Galena pressured in the backcourt, but Chris Steele snuck downcourt for a layup. Galena came up empty on its next two possessions, and after the second failure, Brian Barnes launched a long pass to Trey Jensen, who scored on a layup to cap off the run.
“We wanted to push the ball as fast as we can,” Barnes said. “Fortunately, on those two plays we were able to get behind the defense. They were pressuring hard (in the backcourt).”
The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the third quarter and the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter before a free throw by Barnes and a layup by Brennan Shaffer hiked the lead to 34-27 with 3:35 remaining.
A three-point play by C.J. Marcotte trimmed the lead to 35-31. Carson turned the ball over on its next possession, and then got a break when Arciniega bricked two free throws with 2:08 left. Galena had another chance to cut into the lead, but Carson’s Pat Smith deflected a pass in the middle of the key.
Carson spread the court, and Johnson was fouled with 1:30 left. He buried both free throws.
After Galena turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, Jensen made one of two free throws for a 38-31 lead.
Galena cut the lead to five twice down the stretch, but was never able to stop the Senators.
What made Carson’s win more impressive is that once again it showed that it can get the job done even when Smith is sidelined with foul problems. Smith picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter and didn’t return until the fourth.
Carson built a 20-17 halftime lead despite nine points by Galena’s Ryan Dougherty in the opening 16 minutes.
“He hurt us with penetration from the free throw line off the right side,” Barnes said.
Dougherty was definitely the bright spot for the Grizzlies, who were without Nate Hosmer (academics) and Brooks Kern (illness).
“I thought our bigs played well tonight,” Galena coach Tom Maurer. “This was by far our worst game.
“Johnson is a very good kid. Carson did a good job winning the game. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them.”