Carson High’s boys basketball team has been in the regional finals twice in the last three years and came away empty handed.
The Senators would like nothing better to wipe out the disappointment of the second-place finishes in the 2012-13 and 2014-15 regional tournament. Carson lost to Hug in overtime and then was knocked off by Galena last year.
And, with eight returnees — Tez Allen, Jayden DeJoseph, Kyle Krebs, Jared Rooker, Asa Carter, Jace Keema, Cody Azevedo and Ian Schulz — off the team that went 18-8 a year ago, chances are favorable the Senators could wind up in the thick of the regional playoff chase again.
“This group has been very solid,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “They have played a lot of games. We had a good summer with them.
“We were second in zone last year, and we aspire to win it. The kids are used to the regional atmosphere. We want to go out and get a banner. Galena was the better team that night. They are going to be good again this year. They have Zach Williams back, and he hit some big shots against us.”
Mendeguia has put a big challenge in front of his team. The Senators are playing in the Crusader Classic in San Francisco Dec. 3-5 and the Jerry Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas Dec. 17-19. In Las Vegas, Carson drew one of the top teams from San Diego, Cathedral Catholic.
“I don’t care too much about are non-conference record,” Mendeguia said. “It’s all about what we do in league and zone, and this challenging schedule will help us accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Mendeguia’s biggest concerns are replacing Cameron Price and point guard Kyle Steele. Mendeguia is counting on both Allen and DeJoseph to take up the slack for Price.
“Jayden and Tez have to step it up,” Mendeguia said. “Cameron Price was a force inside; a very physical player. It’s different when you are the focus. Tez and Jayden have to play well. Both DeJoseph and Allen have the ability to score inside and out.
“Losing Kyle Steele after three years as a starter is big. The point guard is the quarterback of the team and an extension of the coach on the floor. Jared has to understand what we’re trying to accomplish out there, and make good decisions. He has to distribute the ball and get everybody involved. Jared is more than capable.”
Another guy Mendeguia has hopes for is Schulz, who showed glimpses of what he’s capable of, but needs to be more consistent and more of a force at both ends of the floor. Schulz needs to make use of his 6-3 235-pound frame.
“He had a good summer,” Mendeguia said. “I’m happy with what Ian produced, he has tons of potential. He has to believe in himself, and once he does that, he can be a force to be reckoned with.”
And, holding it all together is shooting guard Asa Carter, a returning starter. Carter is a solid outside shooter, and that ability should open up things for Carson’s big men.
“Asa is one of the best athletes in Northern Nevada,” Mendeguia said. “He was our most consistent player all year long. Defensively, we put him on the best guard from the other team. He’s coming off a great football season, and I expect him to have an outstanding basketball season as well.”
Azevedo backs up Rooker at point guard, Krebs will play shooting guard or small forward and Keema can play pretty much any position on the floor because of his physical toughness. Keema suffered a broken bone in his wrist, and he isn’t scheduled to play until late December.
“Jace is a very hard-working kid,” Mendeguia said. “His injury means somebody else has to step up in that spot. That will make us tougher when league starts.
“Jace is very versatile. Offensively, he can play point, off guard, small forward or power forward. He can defend in the post. He’s not afraid to bang with the bigger guys.”
Michael Mendoza, Taylor Saarem, Sevon Mandoki, Garaet Rauh and Connor Quilling are all up from the junior varsity squad. Pending eligibility review, Damien Wallace will also be on the team.
The bench group will see action more during the second tournament, the Sparks Railroader Classic, than the opening tournament. During the tournament, Carson is also playing crossover games against Spanish Springs and Hug. Mendeguia rescheduled those games so he could play in the Tarkanian Classic.
The veteran coach has already indicated the emphasis is the Spanish Springs and Hug games which makes sense. The Senators play Silver Stage and Lovelock to open the Sparks tournament, games Carson should be able to win without exhausting a ton of energy.