Time runs out on Carson
RENO-Time ran out on the Carson High School girls basketball team’s season, as well as the stellar careers of seniors Alyson Thurman and Pam Williams, on Thursday night in the semifinals of the 4A state basketball tournament.
Galena (28-7) which had lost to the Senators (28-7) last Friday in overtime in the Northern 4A Zone semifinal, beat the Senators 47-40 to advance to today’s championship game against Reno at 8:20 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.
“It’s a hard loss because we just beat them,” said Carson center Meghan Gradert, who scored 14 points. “It’s heartbreaking because we wanted to be in the championship and have another shot at Reno, but it just didn’t work out.”
Williams, who finished her career No. 2 in rebounds and No. 4 in scoring on the Senators’ all-time lists, accepted the loss without any regrets.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Galena’s a good team and they were just better tonight,” said Williams, who had four points against the Grizzlies. “It’s disappointing, but we’ve had a good four years and made it to state four years in a row.”
Once again, it was a subpar third quarter which proved to be the undoing of the Senators. After taking a two-point lead at halftime, 20-18, Carson’s offense lapsed in the third and scored only seven points. Galena built a 32-27 lead by the end of the period on the strength of six points apiece by Whitney Williams and Kellie Burton.
“It could have been a mental lapse,” said Pam Williams. “We were trying to cut those out, but it seemed to happen. You have to give them credit, they were running the court and their shots were going in – they played a good game.”
Whitney Williams’ offensive outburst was surprising, considering she had scored only four and two points respectively in Galena’s previous two losses to the Senators this season. She finished as the Grizzlies’ high scorer with 17 points.
“Whitney shot the ball better tonight than she had the other three times we had played,” said Carson coach Paul Croghan. “She’s a good shooter and it surprised us she didn’t score more against us in the earlier games.
“We made some unforced errors at crucial times. The third quarter is definitely something we have to look at, because in every big game – like our two games against Reno – the third’s been a bad spot for us.”
When Pam Williams cut the Galena lead to 34-31 with 5:57 left in the fourth, the Senators looked to have regained momentum. But Whitney Williams answered with a bucket of her own to up the Grizzly lead to five once again.
But that five-point margin was as close as the Senators would get. Each time Carson put the pressure on Galena, the Grizzlies responded with a basket or clutch free throws. The Grizzlies were 9-of-11 from the line in the fourth (12-for-15 in the game).
After falling behind by 10 with 1:30 left, Carson made one final rally. Gradert scored inside, and then Carson stole the ball and got it to Thurman, who nailed her third 3-pointer of the game to cut the Grizzly lead to 45-40. Carson, forced to foul, sent Williams to the line with 17 seconds remaining, but she iced the game for the Grizzlies with two final free throws.
Thurman finished as Carson’s leading scorer in the game with 17 points. She finished her career with 1,706 points, No. 1 on the all-time Senator list. Seniors Davina Carter, who scored three points, and Jina Padilla also made their final appearances for Carson against the Grizzlies.
“Pam and Allison have been great; we’re gonna miss them,” Croghan said. “They’re great people too, not just great basketball players. It’s been mine and Ron Tamori’s pleasure to coach them.”
Today’s game marks the first appearance by Galena in the 4A state championship. Grizzly coach Karen Friel said she thought her team was ready for a good performance in the state tourney after a disappointing fourth place in zone.
“When we came up here for the first time (on Wednesday against Silverado), the girls had the look in their eyes like they didn’t want to just show up, but that they actually wanted to do something,” Friel said.
Notes: Grizzly guard Jayleen Chen did not play due to illness.