Senator boys varisty basketball team looks for upset at Reno
BY DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
Prep basketball’s third season ” the post-season ” begins tonight for the Carson High’s boys basketball team, and the Senators couldn’t have been paired against a tougher opponent.
Carson, which finished fourth at 8-6 in the Sierra League, takes on the Reno Huskies, who won the High Desert League with an 11-1 record.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Reno High School.
Reno won the 4A state title in 2006 and 2008, and has arguably the best guard in the state in four-year star Austin Morgan. The Huskies have lost 12 games this year, but 11 of them have come when they have played teams from outside the state.
It’s certainly a big task for the Senators. It’s a game nobody expects them to win, so the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of Reno.
“We’re going into the game as a big underdog,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “It’s playoff season, and I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen in the playoffs. One and done puts a lot of pressure on people sometimes.”
“They’ve got good personnel. They are the best team on their side. They are big, and Austin Morgan is probably the best player in Northern Nevada. He shoots the 3 and he’s extremely quick.”
The 5-11 Morgan averages 20 points a game, and his 35 3-pointers, according to MaxPreps.com represents nearly half of the team’s total. He’s joined in the backcourt by 5-foot-10 Brennan Caverhill, who runs the offense at point guard.
After that, the Huskies get really big with 6-7 Zach Sanford (9.5 points per game), 6-5 Zak Smith (7.5 ppg) and 6-5 Scott Challis (7.2 ppg). Small forward James Kerivan averages 7.5 a contest.
The size disadvantage puts a lot of pressure on the Senators’ front-line group of 5-10 Paul Cagle, 6-3 Pat Smith and 6-3 Uriel Duran. They need to be conscious of boxing out and limiting Reno to just one shot.
It all starts with Morgan, however, and the Senators will have to pick their poison in terms of how they want to defend him.
“If you go chest up with him, he’ll go right by you,” Barnes said. “If you lay off him, he’ll shoot the 3.”
Expect Barnes to mix up his defenses regularly so that Reno can’t get into a comfort zone offensively.
Tempo is key for the Senators, who need to make every possession count. The Huskies like to play up-tempo, and they are at their best when they can force turnovers with their pressure defense.
“They want to play the game in the 70s and up,” Barnes said. “They are going to do everything in their power to make us play fast. Their press is designed to make you play faster.”
Thus, it’s important for the Senators not to jack up the first semi-open 18-footer they see.
The only way Carson can win is to keep the game in the low 50s, and that means that Brian Barnes (15 ppg), Cagle (11 ppg), Matt Rutledge (5 ppg) and Kalvin Case (6.5) must knock down open shots when they have good opportunities.
The Senators need to show the same kind of patience they demonstrated against Fallon last week.
NOTES: The 4A tournament starts out at school sites for the first round for and then shifts to Spanish Springs on Friday and Saturday … The state tournament is scheduled for Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena on Feb. 26 and 27. Since the tournament is in Las Vegas this year, only the winners will move on.