Thank goodness for the defense.
On a night when its offense was inconsistent, Carson High put together an outstanding defensive effort to knock off Spanish Springs 48-35 in the semifinals of the 29th annual Capital Classic Basketball Tournament Thursday night at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
The Senators, 5-3, will face Reed, a 55-48 winner over Buchanan in tonight's championship game at 6 p.m.
Spanish Springs plays Buchanan, a 55-48 loser to Reed in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m. Dayton plays Central Valley for the consolation title at 2:45 p.m. and Spring Creek and Sparks square off in the seventh-place game at 1:15 p.m.
Carson held Spanish Springs to 37.9 percent from the floor, and held the Cougars without a point for eight-plus minutes, spanning the final 4:33 of the third quarter and the first four-plus minutes of the fourth quarter.
And, the Senators held the Cougars' Casey Rodela to 11 points. Rodela fouled out late in the fourth quarter. He was 4 for 11 from the field.
"Defense won us the game tonight, especially in the second half," Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. "We had pretty good defense in the first half.
"We had their three main sets down; the ones they were running last night (Wednesday). We got in the passing lanes and tried to deny him the ball."
Barnes, with his second unit in, went to a 2-3 zone late in the third quarter, and Spanish Springs was unable to adjust, turning the ball over four times and going scoreless in the last 4 1/2 minutes to fall behind by double digits.
'We just flew around in the zone," Barnes said. "It's what I wanted the starters to do. Sometimes you learn by watching from the bench."
Kevin Brush (10 points) and Jake Jeffers scored to start a 9-0 run, and that's when the starters left the floor with 4:10 left. Bryon Wilson knocked in a shot from the left side and then drained a 3-pointer with :02 left to give Carson a 32-21 lead.
"It's his (Wilson's) first year in the program, and he's learning the system," Barnes said. "He can really shoot the ball."
The Cougars' Doug Williams (12 points) scored with 7:19 left in the game, trimming the lead to 32-23. However, baskets by Brush, Jeffers and Jack Jacquet (11 points) plus a free throw by Brush made it 40-23 with 3:54 left.
The Senators got impatient at that point, and the Cougars went on a 10-2 run to get the deficit down to nine, 42-33, with 1:46 left. Rodela had a trey and a three-point play and Williams had a basket and two free throws to lead the surge. Carson lengthened the lead to 15 with six straight points.
"We were playing like we were trying to catch up instead of having a 16-point lead," Barnes said.
REED 55, BUCHANAN 48
Nick Dixon scored 17, Brad Petersen 15 and Shakka Kanu 10 to lead the Raiders to a hard-fought semifinal win over Buchanan, which is coached by former Reno head coach Eric Swain.
Petersen scored 11 in the first half to spark Reed to a 29-24 lead. Dixon took over in the second half with 12 of his 17 points.
Jason Umfress and Cooper Steele led Buchanan with 11 points apiece.
DAYTON 68, SPRING CREEK 51
The Dust Devils scored 40 second-half points, 18 by Jordan Stokes, to turn back Spring Creek in a loser's bracket game.
Stokes, who finished with 26 points, scored 11 in the third when Dayton bolted to a 48-40 advantage. Josh Waggoner also played well in the second half, scoring nine of his 11 points.
Colby Satterthwaite led Spring Creek with 14 points.
CENTRAL VALLEY 61, SPARKS 52
Central Valley outscored Sparks 21-7 in the fourth quarter en route to a nine-point victory in a loser's bracket contest.
T.J. Carlie led Central Valley with 12 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. Scott Armstead scored nine, all on 3-point field goals.
Curtis Rusin led Sparks with 18 points and Vincent Jasmin added 13.