Although Carson High boys' basketball Coach Richard Masson has not been entirely pleased with the way the Colts have played early this season, he can hardly argue with the results.
Especially after Carson opened Southern Pacific Conference play with a 76-67 victory over previously undefeated Crenshaw on Wednesday afternoon at Carson.
The victory improved Carson's record to 6-1. Crenshaw, a perennial City Section 4-A Division power, is 3-1.
"We're 6-1 and we've still got a lot of improving to do, but I think that this bodes well for the future," Masson said. "We're still not where we want to be offensively, but the thing they're doing is playing defense well. That's what's saving us."
Masson was also encouraged by the offensive play of guard William Thomas, who led the Colts with 22 points, and forward Chris Ramsey, who added 16.
At the start of the season, Masson was concerned that forward Rudy Washington and center Khary Stanley--the team's top players who have signed national letters of intent to play at Drake University next season--would have to carry the bulk of the scoring load.
"Other guys are picking it up for us," Masson said. "It's not just Washington and Stanley. So that's nice to see."
Carson trailed, 16-15, at the end of the first quarter, and Crenshaw extended its lead to 30-21 on a basket by guard Curtis Galbert midway through the second quarter.
"We were a little too anxious," Masson said. "We were making mistakes against their press, but it was something we knew we could adjust. We just fell out of our game for a couple of minutes."
The Colts trailed, 36-33, at halftime, but took the lead at 40-39 on a three-point basket by Thomas with 4 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Carson put the game away by outscoring the Cougars, 10-3, at the start of the fourth quarter for a 57-47 lead. The Colts increased their lead to 13 points, 69-56, before Crenshaw crawled back in the closing minutes.
The final score did not matter much to Masson, who was happy to lead the Colts to their first victory over the Cougars in several seasons.
"Early in the season, it's tough to play a game like this, and we're usually a pretty slow-starting team," Masson said. "But it's been a long time since we've beaten Crenshaw so this is really nice. It's been at least 10 years, so any time you beat Crenshaw you have to be happy."
Washington added 13 points and Stanley scored nine before fouling out with 2:32 remaining in the game.
Crenshaw, which had five players score in double figures, was led by forward Akili Carter with 12 points and center Jason Lammey with 11.