CARSON CITY — It wasn’t pretty unless you like defense.
The host Carson City-Crystal Eagles and visiting Montabella Mustangs put on a defensive display in an MSAC contest on Thursday night.
In the end, it was the Eagles playing slightly better defense in a 32-26 victory.
“Credit Montabella. Defensively, they did a nice job against us,” Eagles coach Cory Schneider said. “I thought we did a solid job defensively. We couldn’t get into much of a rhythm. I don’t think either team got too many fast break looks or got into the rhythm of their offense throughout the whole game.”
Montabella coach Jared Simon felt like it was the first game of the year.
“As far as execution goes offensively, we didn’t take what they were giving us, but give them credit,” he said. “They did a really good job defensively. We knew coming in they were going to force us into things we were uncomfortable with.”
Montabella started cold despite good looks at the basket. Carson City used its dribble-drive penetration to set up open looks from the outside. The Eagles hit three first quarter 3-pointers and led 14-3 after the first quarter.
The Eagles’ offense dried up in the second quarter as the Mustangs posted a shutout defensively to trail 14-8 after two quarters.
“They made some adjustments, clogged the lane pretty good and contained our dribble-drive,” Schneider said. “We turned it over too many times trying to get it inside instead of kicking it out and then driving again.”
Montabella pulled to within two points at 14-12 with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Over the next three minutes, Carson City found its offense and went on a 10-0 run, capped off by a Garrett Gage 3-pointer, to open up a 24-12 advantage.
“Basketball is a game of runs and they (CC-C) did a good job of responding to that,” Simon said. “Instead of tightening up, they continued to play their game and put us away.”
Carson City maintained its lead into the fourth quarter. Montabella pulled to within 28-24 with 41 seconds left, but the Eagles sealed the game with four consecutive free throws.
“After the first quarter, I thought we did a pretty good job,” Simon said. “I credit Kelton Eldred, who did a good job and played the whole game. As a team, we made some mistakes that hurt us.”
Gage led all scorers with four 3-pointers for 12 points. Kaleb Barrett added seven points for the Eagles.
“That is his strength (shooting),” Schneider said of Gage. “As a coach I try to create opportunities for him to get a good look.”
Montabella, which tried to work its offense inside more than usual, was led by Josh Balhorn with nine points. Brennon Ball added eight points.
“For the first time all year we played a team that wasn’t six inches taller than us at every position,” Simon said. “We wanted to get it inside and work out. When we did that, I thought our offense looked good.”
Montabella (2-3, 0-3) will face Farwell at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday. Carson City-Crystal (4-2, 3-0) is at St. Louis on Tuesday.
CC-CRYSTAL 32, MONTABELLA 26
Montabella 3 5 8 10 — 26
CC-Crystal 14 0 10 8 — 32
MONTABELLA (2-3, 0-3) — Butler 3 1-1 7, Bucao 1 0-0 2, Balhorn 3 2-5 9, Ball 3 2-5 8. Totals: 10 5-9 26. 3-point goals: Balhorn. Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
CC-CRYSTAL (4-2, 3-0) — Stout 1 2-2 4, Tabor 2 0-0 4, B. Johns 1 0-0 2, Gage 4 0-0 12, Barrett 2 3-4 7, Earles 1 0-0 3. Totals: 11 5-6 32. 3-point goals: Gage 4, Earles. Total fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.