CARSON CITY — No one will accuse the Carson City-Crystal girls basketball team of playing a soft schedule this season.
With wins against Class B schools Belding, Tri County and Shepherd already, not to mention league rivals Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart and Montabella, the Eagles faced another quality Class B school in Sparta on Saturday at home.
Again the Eagles didn’t disappoint as Mikayla Duflo led two in double figures as they outscored the Spartans 20-7 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 50-37 non-league win.
Carson City (14-2) coach Larry Farmer said a simple key to winning these games is defense.
“We played great defense and held them to under 40 when they usually score more than that,” he said. “We were able to get the ball inside. Some games it’s been perimeter oriented, but this game we were able to get inside and I thought that was the difference.”
The Eagles jumped out to a 15-7 lead after the first quarter courtesy of three three-pointers from Duflo. Hailey Geister scored seven of the Eagles’ nine points in the second quarter for a 24-16 lead at halftime.
“They post up their guards hard and we are not used to that,” Sparta coach Matt McCallum said. “We just didn’t defend it very well and that hurt us pretty bad. Our defense was just fair. We gave up 50 points and we don’t usually give up that many points.”
Sparta (8-7) tried to play zone defense early, but Duflo starting draining shots outside. Sparta then focused on Duflo and the Eagles made a living inside.
“It’s hard for teams to go zone against us because Mikayla is such a good shooter,” Farmer said. “She is leading the Lansing area in three’s and closing in on 50 again this year. She already has the school career record for threes.”
Sparta came out firing in the third quarter and outscored the Eagles 14-6 to even the game at 30 after 24 minutes. Carson City struggled with turnovers and making shots.
“That’s why I always say, ‘offense is the friend that will leave you when times are tough, but defense will always be there for you,’” Farmer said. “That’s what we try to do is play defense steady all the time. The defense will keep you in it and give you a chance.”
Carson City still had the chance and they took advantage of it in the fourth quarter.
Duflo opened the final quarter with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Eagles a 36-32 lead. From there, Emily Ward and Tori Christiansen took care of scoring inside the paint.
“We had more turnovers (14) today than normal and our shooting percentage wasn’t great on three’s,” McCallum said. “They are a good team. They do what they are supposed to and play very good defense. This is a very good team and I told the girls that.”
“The girls did a nice job with passes,” Farmer said. “The nice thing about this team is it can be different girls posting it up. We have a good balanced team.”
Carson City won both conference and district titles last year. Expectations were high again this year and that is why Farmer decided to toughen the schedule.
“We knew we had a good team this year and we tried to stiffen up our competition this year and play some bigger schools to help us get ready,” Farmer said. “We have a tough game next week against Montabella. I expect to get a tough game from them.”
Carson City will face another tough team tonight when they host Fulton. They are at Saginaw Nouvel on Saturday.
CC-C 50, SPARTA 37
Sparta 7 9 14 7 — 37
CC-Crystal 15 9 6 20 — 50
SPARTA (8-7) — Gee 2 0-0 5, Wilde 1 0-0 2, Cnossen 5 0-0 12, Buchanan 3 0-2 6, Kolenda 4 1-1 9. Totals: 16 1-3 37. Three-point goals: Cnossen 2, Gee, Kolenda. Total fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.
CC-CRYSTAL (14-2) — Ward 3 0-0 6, Duflo 5 0-0 15, Christiansen 4 1-4 9, H. Geister 5 4-6 14, M. Geister 3 0-1 6. Totals: 20 5-10 50. Three-point goals: Duflo 5. Total fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.