SPARKS - It was only fitting that the game-winning basket in Carson High's 68-67 overtime win over El Camino in the first round of the Nugget-Rail City Classic was a putback by Jake Jeffers.
After all, Jeffers dominated at both ends of the floor, collecting a game-high 17 rebounds in Wednesday's opening-round victory at Reed High School.
Jeffers, who also scored 18 points, followed in Adam Houghton's miss with less than two seconds left to give Carson a one-point lead. The clock ran out while El Camino frantically was calling timeout. After a brief huddle, the officials put .5 seconds back on the clock. El Camino's desperation 65-footer was well off the mark.
Jeffers scored six of his points in the overtime period, and he really had no big explanation for the last play, which wiped out a 67-66 El Camino lead.
"I'm not sure what happened," Jeffers said. "The ball just came to me and I put it back in."
Carson coach Bruce Barnes admitted that the last play didn't exactly go as planned. He said it was set up for Jeffers. Houghton forced up a jump shot from the foul line, and came close to being called for a charge. Jeffers collared the rebound and scored.
"I think we panicked a little bit," said Barnes, whose team returns to action tonight at 6 at Reed. "I think they were thinking back to when they didn't get a shot off at all (at end of regulation). A lot falls on Adam's shoulders. He's a two-year starter. He has the confidence to take a shot like that."
And, Houghton had a big game himself, scoring 13 points. Jack Jacquet also scored 13 points.
The 24 Carson mistakes won't get the Senators many, if any, style points. Carson played poorly down the stretch in regulation, allowing El Camino's Melvin Flemings to send the game into overtime with a putback, tying the game at 54.
"Overall, it was a rollercoaster (type game)," said Barnes after watching his team improve to 2-2. "We showed some good things. We showed we can get through a little adversity that we created ourselves.
"Jake's been good all year. I know he could do this, and he's starting to play like that. He had a good tournament at Douglas; he dominated on the glass."
Offensive rebounding is about desire and technique. Jeffers showed a lot of both against El Camino.
"I felt like I was getting better position," Jeffers said. "It's not that they weren't working hard. I just worked hard to get better position and rebound."
Jeffers played a huge role in Carson's second-half comeback. The Senators outscored El Camino 14-0 in the final 94 seconds of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth quarter en route to taking a 46-39 lead.
Jacquet started the onslaught with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Steve Mandoki converted an El Camino error into a basket. Jeffers scored on a putback, and then turned a Jacquet blocked shot at the defensive end into two free throws at the other end to make it 41-39 after three.
Carson turned the ball over its first three trips down the floor to start the fourth quarter, but El Camino was unable to convert any of them. Jeffers scored on a putback, Houghton hit a free throw and Kevin Brush scored a basket to give Carson the aforementioned seven-point lead.
Just when it looked like Carson had taken control, El Camino bounced back. Three free throws by Ian Stuart and baskets by Ken Gage and Stuart made it 46-45 with 4:20 left in regulation.
A three-point play by Zach Weismann and a basket by Jacquet made it 51-47. A hoop by Eli Lathrop and a free throw by Ryan Mackenroth trimmed the lead to 51-50 with 2:12 left.
Brush hit two free throws with 1:07 left to make it 53-50, and after Stuart scored to make it 53-52 with 49 seconds left, Brush gave Carson a 54-52 lead with another free throw with 25.4 remaining. Flemings followed in a shot with 10.4 remaining to send the game into overtime.
The teams traded baskets at the outset of overtime, but a field goal by Jeffers and a putback by Houghton made it 60-56. El Camino went ahead 63-62 with 1:51 left on a basket by Gage, but consecutive layups by Mandoki gave the Senators a 66-63 lead with 46 seconds left. Baskets by Gage and Flemings gave El Camino a 67-66 lead, setting the stage for Jeffers' heroics.