Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Everybody's chasing Richfield's Tigers

In the Northside tourney Thursday


The red-shirted Richfield Tigers are almost a sure thing—the New England Patriots of the 2005 Northside Conference boys' varsity basketball tournament starting Thursday, Feb. 10 at Shoshone's gym.

Richfield (17-2, 11-0 league) has run the table in the Northside this winter, winning its league blow-outs by an average of 28.4 points per game. Coach Garr Ward's Tigers have seven seniors led by Player of the Year entry Victor Vaszquez, a 5-9 superstar.

Depending on the poll, Richfield is ranked #2 or #4 in Idaho 1A Division 1, definitely in the mix along with Notus, Lakeside, Troy, Lapwai, Mackay, Nezperce and Council. Only a huge upset could keep Richfield from showing its stuff during the 16-team state tourney March 2 in Caldwell.

"Richfield should win it," said Carey coach Dick Simpson about this week's Northside tournament.

With Richfield nearly a sure thing in the seven-team tournament, that leaves three or four other teams battling for second and the Northside's other berth in the state meet.

Those with the best chances to claim the second-place state tickets are #2-seeded Carey (13-7, 9-3), #3-seeded Camas County (12-3, 8-3) and #4-seeded Community School (9-7, 7-5).

It all starts today, Thursday, with The Community School tipping off against #5-seeded Dietrich (7-13, 4-8) at 5 p.m., Camas County meeting #6-seeded Shoshone (1-18, 1-10) at 6:30 p.m. and Carey playing against #7-seeded Bliss (0-15, 0-11) at 8 p.m.

The winner of Community School-Dietrich meets Richfield Friday at 5 p.m. The Camas-Shoshone and Carey-Bliss winners clash at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Camas and Carey should be a great match-up. Carey swept the season series, by 5 and 9 points. "It's tough to beat a good team three times, and Camas has seniors and height," said Simpson.

Loser-out varsity games will be contested Saturday night. The semi-final is Monday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. followed by the championship game at 7:30 p.m. The big game, for second place, is Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.

Two-time defending Northside champ Carey finished its season on an upbeat note Friday with a 54-39 road win at Shoshone. The Panthers extended their 25-16 half-time lead with a 23-7 burst in the third, led by Brad Hunt's 8 points plus 8 more from Allen Peck.

"We shot the ball really well in the third quarter," said coach Simpson, who had to sit top scorer Tadd Green (16.7 ppg) in the third period due to foul trouble. Carey (48%) shot 14-for-30 from 2-point land and 5-for-10 from 3-ball range.

Tyler Cook (12.3 ppg, 54 3-pointers) finished with 11 points including three 3-pointers and 4 assists. Peck added 10 points, Cody Baird 8, Tadd Green 7, Devin Simpson 4 plus 7 boards, Bryan Hill 3, Luke Harmon 2 and James Carlson 1. Jason Capps (13) topped Shoshone.

After seven-game and three-game win streaks, Carey (57.4 ppg offense, 51.4 ppg defense) went 3-3 in its final six games, so Simpson's Panthers will be looking for more consistency.

"We're going to have to play real well to get out of there," said Simpson. "I'm hoping we show up to play. When you have a lot of young kids, you don't always know."

The dark horse is The Community School (51.8 offense, 48.1 defense), with its height, senior leadership and balanced scoring featuring a rare quartet of double-digit scorers—Andrew Durtschi (13.1 ppg), Connor Wade (11.7), A.J. Beesley (10.6) and Hunter Smith (10.5).

Friday, the Cutthroats played Richfield about as well as any Northside team this winter. It was 40-40 after three quarters at The Fish Tank in Sun Valley, but Richfield's pressure defense ignited a 27-9 fourth-quarter surge for a 67-49 triumph. Vazquez put up 23 points and the Tigers nailed seven 3-pointers.

The 18-point spread was considerably better than host Richfield's 40-point cushion over Sun Valley Jan. 15, which was an encouraging sign for Cutthroat coach Mike Wade.

Beesley had 14 points, Smith 13, Durtschi 12 and Connor Wade 9 for the Cutthroats, who are 8-2 in games they have led at halftime. The 3-point shooting leader is Connor Wade, who has 29 of the team's 58 3-balls.

Both The Community School and Carey have recent state experience, finishing fourth and sixth respectively at last March's State 1A tournament. Richfield (10-15) went 0-2 at state in 2004 after getting to Caldwell with a 68-60 double OT win over Castleford.

The state tournament runner-up in 2000, Richfield won back-to-back Northside titles in 2000 and 2001 but lost to Carey 58-39 in last year's league title game. The Community School is still looking for its first-ever Northside championship.

Cutthroats, Panthers in JV tourney

The Final Four has been settled for the 2005 Northside Conference boys' junior varsity basketball tournament starting Thursday, Feb. 10 at Shoshone High School gym.

Leading the way is The Community School boys' JV, which won its second Northside regular-season title in three years with a closely-played 50-46 home win over Richfield Friday.

Top-seeded Community School (12-2 league) will open the single elimination meet Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday's #4-seeded playoff game between Dietrich and ISDB of Gooding.

Second-seeded Richfield plays #3-seeded Carey Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Shoshone. The winners of the two JV openers will clash for the championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Last year's winner was Carey, 50-46 over Shoshone.

Coach Jim Carkonen's host Cutthroats weathered Richfield's ferocious press Friday and emerged as four-point winners behind the 18 points and 8 rebounds of 6-1 senior low post player J.P. McNeal. It was Sun Valley's ninth straight win, and 13th in 14 games.

The game was extremely tight the entire way, with many lead changes. Spencer Harris added 14 points for the Cutthroats and Quade Koffler (10 points) hit four consecutive free throws in the final minute to ice it. Koffler added 13 boards and 4 blocks.

Point guard Alden Remington (4 steals) was terrific in ball handling and distribution, Carkonen said. Jeff Gaecke's aggressive defense was instrumental in the win. Max Harris played key minutes in relief, despite being sick.

Richfield soph Jacob Brauburger (16) topped the Tigers.

"I'm incredibly proud of these young men," said Carkonen, whose team had six players to Richfield's 10.

He added, "It would have been easy to fold after losing four of our first five games this season. But the kids were determined. They caught fire after the Christmas break and never looked back."

Carey (11-8, 9-5 league) clinched its berth with a 39-38 win over Shoshone Friday. Tyler Parke (11.7 ppg) scored 15 points with 9 boards for Carey. D.J. Simpson (12.3 ppg) added 7 and Blake Whitby 6.




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