Carson’s sophomore point-guard, Andrew Johnson, made 1-of-2 free throws with 4.7 seconds left to give the Senators a 53-52 postseason road win over Hug and a berth in Thursday night’s regional semifinals at Spanish Springs High school.
“It was a great team effort,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “Everyone did their job. We stayed within striking distance and made some plays. It worked out in the end.”
With the score knotted at 52-52, Carson spread the floor, isolating the lane for the cat-quick Johnson. A Hug defender was whistled for a foul as Johnson drove to the rim, setting the stage for his game-winning foul shot.
Johnson was a thorn in Hug’s side all night, scoring 16 points to help the Sierra League’s No. 3 seeded Senators steal the upset victory. Pat Smith turned in a team-high 19 points to pace the CHS offense.
Hug, the High Desert League runner-up, scored the first two buckets of the game and led all the way until the 2:14 mark of the fourth period. That’s when Carson’s Chris Steele canned a pair of free throws to put the Senators on top 50-49.
The Hawks regained the lead, 51-50, when senior standout Tre Johnson collected a steal at midcourt and drove to the rim for a crowd-rocking slam dunk with 1:31 to go in the contest.
Johnson poured in a game-high 21 points but was the lone HHS player in double digits. Even he was slowed in the second half, scoring five points in the third quarter and just two in the fourth after posting 14 first-half points.
“I thought we did a better job on Johnson as the game wore on,” Barnes said. “We did a better job forcing him left and getting our weak side guard to drop. We made a couple little adjustments at halftime and the kids did what they were supposed to do.”
Carson’s Brennan Shaffer made a pair of free throws, leaving 1:20 on the game clock and the Senators with a 52-51 lead. With 42 ticks remaining, Hug’s Jaevis Johnson tied the game at 52s when he made 1-of-2 free throws.
Mediocre free-throw shooting killed the Hawks Tuesday as they connected on only 9-of-19 attempts from the charity stripe.
“Free throws and missed layups hurt us,” Hug coach Charles Walker said. “We didn’t finish and then we took a couple of shots we didn’t need to take. Plus, we fouled when didn’t need to foul.
“We just didn’t play smart in crunchtime. The game was flowing early. We knew it would be a tough game. It’s funny because in the past six or seven games, we’ve been making smart plays to the finish in those types of games and tonight it caught up with us.”
Hug led 31-26 at halftime, but Carson trimmed that lead to one point by scoring the first two baskets of the second half. The Hawks answered with a 7-0 spurt that saw them forge ahead 38-30. The eight-point gap was their largest of the night.
Carson scored nine of the final 13 points of the third period and trailed by just three, 42-39, heading into the fourth quarter.
Hug looked in firm control through the initial 11 minutes of play. The Hawks got a 3-pointer from Arjay Cordero with 5:16 showing on the second-quarter clock. That made the score 25-17. However, Carson scored the next six points, capped by a jumper from the elbow by Smith, trimming the Hug lead to 25-23.
Carson advances to play Sierra League champion Bishop Manogue, which swept the Senators in league play, Thursday at 7 p.m.
•Bishop Manogue, the Sierra League regular season champion, scored early and often en route to a 94-50 first-round playoff romp at home over North Valleys Tuesday.
Bobby Hunter torched the NVHS defense, throwing in 32 points to lead Bishop Manogue. Sutter Childs and Brennan Hogan added 18 and 14 points for the Miners (23-4), who are now riding a 16-game winning streak.
Aaron Short led North Valleys with 17 points.