“We’re kind of a timid team right now,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “We did a good job with our movement, but it was just that, only movement. We had no energy … Give Carson credit. They out-physicaled us. We played afraid to make plays.”
Despite its offensive struggles, Spanish Springs had a 35-34 lead after Ryan Swanson got a putback with 4:16 to go in the fourth period. Carson responded by scoring the next seven points and never trailed again. Carson’s Chris Steele capped the mini run with two foul shots that forged the hosts ahead 41-35.
“We showed some mental toughness down the stretch,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “I called in the seniors today and put it on them. I told them that the next four games (including tonight) will determine whether you want to go to the playoffs.”
Spanish Springs got to within three, 46-43, after Tanner Oates knocked down a jumper with 25 ticks to go.
On the ensuing CHS possession, Steele drained two more free throws but Carson was whistled for a technical foul on the sequence for having six men on the floor.
The snafu could have been costly for Carson, had Spanish Springs made both free throws. Cougars junior Tremor Shetrawski only made 1 of 2 technical free throws, leaving the margin at four, 48-44, still a two-possession game in the waning seconds.
Spanish Springs did not score on its possession and was forced to foul again.
The game was close throughout. Spanish Springs led 18-12 midway through the second quarter after a 7-0 run of its own. Carson (5-15, 4-9) then scored the last two buckets of the first half and trailed by just two, 18-16 at the intermission.
“We’re not going to blow anybody out,” Barnes said. “Every game we win is going to be close. We’re playing every game like it’s the playoffs. If we can win three of four we control our own destiny”
Brian Barnes led Carson with 13 points while Steele chipped in 12.
Swanson and Brandon Delong each poured in 16 points for Spanish Springs, but the rest of the team combined for just 12 in defeat.
Spanish Springs (9-13, 6-7) will try to bounce back from back-to-back losses Friday night when it returns to HDL play for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.