It was rarely in dominating fashion, but Carson completed a 19-0 run against regional opponents with a 51-45 win over Reno (20-7) in Saturday’s DI North title game at Spanish Springs.
The Senators (24-4) hit nine of their final 10 free throws, including 5-of-7 in the final minute to put away their first title since 1995.
“We really spend a lot of time shooting free throws,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “Those can win or lose games. We talk about it all the time. We don’t want it coming down the wire and losing a game at the free throw line.”
With Carson leading 46-43 with 56 seconds left, Tez Allen stepped to the line as Spanish Springs’ massive at-capacity gym roared. After hitting two free throws just 30 seconds prior to give Carson a 46-40 lead, he did the deed again to stretch the lead five.
Karn Goraya hit a tough shot on Reno’s next possession to get the difference back to three.
The Huskies then forced a jump ball and were awarded possession with 32.8 seconds left. Out of a timeout, Reno threw up a would-be tying triple but it came up short and kicked out of bounds off the Huskies.
Allen split two freebies with 18 seconds left to push Carson up 49-45 and effectively end the game.
Allen led all scorers with 16 points. Jayden DeJoseph had 15.
Reno led 27-22—its largest of the game—at the half, but Carson began the second half on a 12-2 run and led the rest of the way.
“It was huge,” Mendeguia said of the start to the second half. “In the first quarter we moved the ball pretty well, attacking gaps, getting everybody involved and then in the second quarter, we went away from that. We got caught up and played a lot of 1-on-1 basketball … We talked about it at halftime, we have to spread them out … and I think we did a better job of that in the second half.”
Carson’s advantage never shrunk to fewer than three in the closing minutes.
By virtue of advancing to the regional title game, both teams qualified for state next week at Lawlor Events Center.
Carson will play Coronado, the Sunrise champion, on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Reno will play Bishop Gorman, the Sunset champion, earlier at 4:40 p.m.