Carson High’s basketball team was stretched to the limit Tuesday night, but the Senators stemmed the tide and remained unbeaten in Division I play.
The Senators scored on four straight possessions early in the fourth quarter to wipe out a four-point deficit and go on to beat the Galena Grizzlies, 60-54, in a Sierra League showdown at Morse Burley Gym.
Carson improved to 9-0 while Galena dropped to 4-5. The Senators put their winning streak on the line Friday at 7 p.m. at Bishop Manogue, which improved to 6-2 with a win over Douglas.
Galena led 32-22 with 6:20 left in the third quarter, but Carson outscored the Grizzlies 38-22 the rest of the way to secure the win. The 10-point deficit was the biggest Carson has faced in league play.
“That’s a good team,” CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “They are battle tested and they are very long, and very athletic.
“We got up early (12-4) and then we got stagnant. We stood around too much. The 3-2 zone was open in the middle, but we didn’t take advantage of it until late. They are long and it’s tough to get penetration. We wanted to get the ball inside. I think we showed a lot of character and maturity tonight; being down by 10 and fighting back like we did.”
The Senators’ comeback started at the tail end of the third quarter when Jared Rooker nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer when Galena elected to hang back and protect the interior. Rooker’s hoop cut the deficit to 45-39.
Carson fed on that momentum.
Tez Allen, who led all scorers with 19 points, missed from close range and was fouled. He knocked down both free throws to make it 45-41. Galena started to struggle, going 0-for-3 and turning the ball over twice on its next three possessions. Asa Carter broke loose on a fast-break to make it 45-43. Dilln Voyles made it 47-43 with 6:01 left when he knocked down two free throws.
That’s when the game went awry for the Grizzlies, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
Allen scored on the ensuing possession to make it 47-45, and the Senators took timeout, Galena misfired on its next possesion, and Allen scored again in the key, tying the game at 47. Carson took the lead for good when Noah Peck misfired on a 3-point attempt, and Jayden DeJoseph took a pass from Carter and scored on a lay-up to make it 49-47 with 4:10 left. Carson ran a lot of time off the clock in an effort to pull Galena out of its zone, and Allen came up big again to make it 51-47.
“We had three straight possessions where we ran certain plays and scored off of them,” Mendeguia said. “I think once we got the lead our confidence level went up.
“Once we got settled down and got the right guys in the right places, we executed well.”
Voyles, who carried the Grizzles in the fourth quarter knocked down two free throws to make it 51-49, but Carson scored five straight points to pull ahead 56-49 with 35 seconds left.
Two came from Jace Keema, who scored against 6-7 Zach Williams to make it 53-49. Neither team scored in the next 90 seconds. Galena went 0-for-2 and turned the ball over, while Carson missed a lay-up and committed a turnover.
Allen made it 54-49 with a free throw and then made a great defensive play when he knocked a long downcourt pass off Voyles’ knee.
Allen drained two free throws to make it 56-49, and after Voyles made two free throws to make it 56-51, DeJoseph made two free tosses to make it 58-51 with 24.6 left.
Allen said the Senators didn’t panic even when the team trailed by 10.
“We trust each other,” he said. “We always believed we were going to win.”
Galena coach Brian Voyles put the 3-2 in after Christmas, scrapping the 2-3.
“We’re playing the defense that is best for us,” he said. “With the 3-2, we have Dillon (Voyles) and Derek (Kline) who can cover a lot of space. We were worried about DeJoseph and Asa is very good at the 15-footer, and we wanted to push him out a little bit.”
Williams, one of Galena’s best players, didn’t score a point in the fourth quarter. His coach felt it was a combination of Carson’s defense and Williams himself.
“Sometimes Zach takes himself out of games,” Voyles said. “He needs to be more aggressive offensively.”