Senators defeat Dayton
Appeal Sports Writer
MINDEN – After a tough opening game against Laguna Creek (Calif.) Thursday to start the sixth annual Carson Valley Classic boys basketball tournament at Douglas High School, the Carson Senators played their second solid game in a row, beating the Dayton Dust Devils, 61-53, Saturday.
The victory came on the heels of a 59-57 win over Reed on Friday.
Junior forward Rob Valerius scored 16 points, senior forward Zach Weismann added 15 and the Carson defense gave the Dust Devils problems throughout the game as the Senators moved to 2-1 on the season.
“It was a gritty performance,” said seventh-year Carson coach Bruce Barnes, who guided his team to an 11-17 record last year but has only two seniors on his 13-man squad this year. “We came out and shot the ball early and got a little bit of a lead. Dayton came back against our zone. We showed signs of improvement. Our guys are more confident.”
Valerius and Weismann each had a bucket and a 3-pointer as Carson jumped out to a 10-2 lead with 6 minutes, 4 seconds to go in the first quarter. Junior guard Will Holbert, had eight of his first 14 points in the quarter and his banker off the glass and subsequent free throw gave the Senators a 16-4 lead with 3:47 remaining in the period.
“We didn’t shoot well from the outside,” said second-year Dayton coach T.W. Cunningham, whose Dust Devils (now 4-2) finished last season 23-7 and lost to Faith Lutheran in the Class 3A state championship. “We took some bad shots a couple of times. The shots didn’t go down and we dug ourselves a hole. They continued to play zone on us.”
The Dust Devils had problems early with Carson’s 2-3 zone and either took tough shots from the perimeter or were double – or triple-teamed when they tried to penetrate to the basket.
“We were switching up between the 2-3 and 3-2,” Barnes said. “It’s something we’ll need to do later in the year. It’s something that…with our size we’ll usually have a mismatch. We tried to play our rotation, so when we play big teams at least we’ll know the area we’re defending.”
After a long jumper from Dayton junior forward Ryan Ransdell cut the lead to eight, sophomore guard Matt Rutledge buried a 3-pointer to put Carson back up by 11 at 23-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Rutledge finished with 10 points for a well-balanced Carson offense.
A Weismann lay-up once again put Carson up by 11 at 27-16, but the Dust Devils started to find their rhythm in the second quarter and a 15-foot jumper by Mike Vincent and a pair of threes from Erik Hopper and Travis Wood closed a 10-2 run for the Dust Devils, who trailed 29-26 at halftime.
Hopper and Vincent each finished with nine points for Dayton.
Weismann had six points – including 4-of-6 from the foul line – in the third quarter and Valerius had nine points and went 5-of-9 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Both were selected as Carson’s All-Tournament players.
Weismann had 28 points and Valerius had seven against Reed.
“They are two of the guys we’re counting on this year,” Barnes said. “They’re returning guys. They’re going to be called upon to do it every night for us. Rob played exceptionally well tonight. He was able to finish out at the basket.”
Dayton senior center Jacob Jones was a one-man show for the Dust Devils in the third quarter, scoring all 10 of his team’s points in that period. His jumper at 6:38 of the period drew the Dust Devils to within 31-29 before Carson went on an 8-0 run courtesy of Weismann, Rutledge and Valerius.
Jones hit a pair of free throws, nailed a banker and added a lay-up and a foul shot to narrow Carson’s lead to 42-36 at the end of the third quarter. Jones scored a game-high 29 points and was 9-of-10 from the foul line.
“Jacob Jones had a great game,” Cunningham said.” We did a good job of finally getting him the ball. He did a good job of pounding it in. We stopped dribbling so much and began passing and moving.”
Jones hit two more free throws and buried a turnaround jumper to cut the lead to two at 42-40, but Valerius responded with a pair of his own free throws and a pair of lay-ups to make it 48-40 with 5:37 to go.
A Weismann steal and lay-up gave the Senators a 10-point lead (52-42) and Dayton could get no closer than five the rest of the way.
Barnes said he thought his team rebounded nicely after Laguna Creek’s 48-26 opening-night victory.
“The first night Laguna Creek was a little more talented than we expected,” Barnes said. “They ended up making the final. We had an off-night shooting against them, but they had something to do with that.
“We’ve got to work on consistency. I think every coach this time of year will tell you that he wants his team to be consistent. You don’t want to rely on spurts. You need consistency from the first through fourth quarter. We’re a young team and that is the last thing to come.”
Cunningham said he feels his team is coming around early in the season.
“We’re close. We gotta keep improving and working hard,” Cunningham said. “I think we had two big improvements after the first night (a loss to Bishop Manogue). We competed well after (Carson’s) hot start. We were smart enough to run often and stay close. We got ourselves some shots, but we weren’t able to make it home.”
Cunningham said his team, which is comprised of six seniors and six juniors, will work on continuing to make strides as the season progresses.
“There’s nowhere we can’t improve,” he said. “We’ve got to get better everywhere. The deeper we are, the more it will help down the stretch.”
Carson will have a bit of a break before returning to action against Manogue. The Senators will host the Miners Thursday. The game will begin at 7 p.m. at Morse Burley Gym.