Carson and Douglas boys basketball had their entire seasons riding on the line Friday night as the Tigers traveled north to face the Senators.
By the end of regulation, no one had gained any separation leaving overtime to decide the final winner.
When the buzzer sounded, it was the Senators storming their home floor with a 58-51 win and a postseason berth in hand.
The postseason spot for the Senators comes after a 2-20 campaign just last season.
“We never give up. We will always put up a fight no matter
what,” said Carson senior guard Nathan Smothers. “We don’t care what team it
is. … We will step up to the challenge.”
Carson will open its first regional tournament since 2016-17
Wednesday at Spanish Springs at 7 p.m.
Heading to overtime
A slow, sluggish first half from both teams turned into more of a normal rivalry contest in the second half.
Carson trailed 33-25 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter when the two teams fighting for one playoff spot started trading punches.
A Chris Thacker 3-pointer for Douglas gave the Tigers an eight-point lead late in the quarter, but triples from Carson’s Parsa Hadjighasemi and Smothers capped a 10-2 Carson run.
The Senators’ run left the two teams tied at 35-35 with eight minutes remaining.
Except the game’s next eight minutes didn’t ultimately determine much.
Carson held a three-point edge, 47-44, late in the fourth
quarter after Smothers pulled up from mid-range for two.
On Douglas’ following possession, Thacker ran baseline underneath the hoop for a putback basket to bring the Tigers within one.
Douglas sent Smothers to the free throw line with 14.7 seconds left in regulation where the Senator senior captain hit one of two free throws.
Down 48-46, Douglas ran the length of the floor and ended up getting Thacker an open look for the win, but the ball bounced off the rim.
However, with 2.6 seconds to go Smalley grabbed the offensive rebound and tipped it into the bucket to force overtime at 48-48.
“We had a set running. No matter what set we run we let the
kids make the call,” said Douglas head coach Corey Thacker. “We trust those
kids to make those decisions and that’s what it went down to.”
Smalley scored the first basket of the extra period and had all three of the Tigers’ points in overtime.
It was Smothers once again who made the biggest impact for the Senators in the final minutes, assisting on a basket, getting to the rim and sinking two free throws.
Smothers, who finished the night with a game-high 19 points, ended up with six points in the overtime period.
“Unreal. I mean, he does it night in and night out,” said
Carson head coach Jordan Glover of Smothers. “Tonight was his house and you saw
it in his emotions.”
“All we’ve asked for is one more game together. God gave us five extra minutes, let’s go take advantage of it,” said Glover of his message to the team leading into overtime.
Douglas wraps up its season with a 7-16 record this season
and will lose six seniors to graduation in the spring.
“As great young men, their leadership, their ability to be
friends is amazing,” said Thacker. “It was fun to come to practice every single
day. They worked their butts off and did everything they can.”
Smothers and Camdyn Meikrantz were the Senators’ two seniors honored on Senior Night prior to the game.
For Smothers, a night that started with emotion ended with
just as much as he reflected on Carson’s work ethic.
“I’ve been working my butt off with all my boys. This is my
family,” said Smothers. “These guys have heart. That’s how we won today and
that’s all we need.”
UP NEXT: Carson (11-14) will open its regional tournament Wednesday at Spanish Springs (19-5). The Cougars took the only meeting between the two this season 61-37 Dec. 21.