There are about 10 reasons the Carey School boys' basketball team is now ranked #1 among Idaho 1A small schools in the latest Idahosports.com polling. Their names are Cook, Green, Peck and so forth.
Depth is the key and unbeaten Carey (7-0, 2-0 league) has it. As Community School coach Mike Wade said after his team's 76-48 home loss to Carey Friday, "Carey is so deep. You stop one or two and the other guys come in and beat you."
Right now Carey is #1 statewide and reigning Northside Conference champion Richfield is #2. But the season is only one-third in the books—and the conference race has just broken the starting blocks.
It helps to have two inside-outside anchors like seniors Tadd Green (17.1 ppg) and Tyler Cook (21.9 ppg with 29 3-pointers in 7 games). They'll both be lodged on the Carey School all-time top-ten scoring list by the end of the season.
But what really boosts Carey is its 69.4 ppg scoring average. The Panthers have won their seven early-season games by an average of 23.7 ppg. That's just good shooting. Coach Dick Simpson said, "It helps when the shots are falling and you're shooting a high percentage."
That was certainly the case last week as the Panthers shot 59% and 40% from the field improving their season average from two-point land to 42%.
Green came alive in the paint for a career-high 31 points plus 10 rebounds in Thursday's 64-38 home Northside Conference win over Camas County (3-4, 2-1 league). On Friday, Green added 21 points in the 76-48 road win over The Community School (1-4, 1-1) in Sun Valley.
Against the Cutthroats, 10 different Carey players scored points. The Panthers (65% season from the stripe) shot a season-best 10-for-11 (91%) at the free throw line. Through seven games Carey is outscoring its opponents 83-36 at the line.
Green scored 9 points while Allen Peck and D.J. Simpson each added 7 in the first quarter when Carey built a 25-13 lead. Although Cutthroat senior captain Kevin Wade shut down top Carey scorer Tyler Cook and scored 6 points himself in the first, Sun Valley couldn't keep up.
"We said we had to be tough defensively against Tadd and Tyler and we did a good job," said Wade. "We really had a good outing against a good team. We wanted to challenge Carey in the post, but our post entry passes were off base too many times."
Indeed, the Cutthroats suffered 14 turnovers in the first half and Carey out-rebounded the home team 10-2 in the second, 36-19 for the game. "They hurt us with their second, third and fourth shots," said Wade.
Other Carey stats from Friday's 28-point win: Green 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks; Cook 11 points, 7 boards and 4 assists; D.J. Simpson 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals; James Carlson 9 points, 3 steals and 5 assists; Allen Peck 8 points; Devin Simpson 6 points and 2 rebounds; Ben Neilson 4 points and 2 boards; Bryan Hill 2 points and 2 rebounds; Cody Baird 2 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists; Tyler Parke 2 points, 5 boards and 2 steals.
The Cutthroats shot well from the perimeter with a season-high six 3-pointers—two apiece by Brendan Nelson (6 points, 3 steals, 4 assists), Christian Cairncross (a season-high 16 points and 4 boards) and Wade (11 points, 2 boards and 3 steals).
Sophomore post Mac Whittington battled well against Green and ended with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Jeff Gaecke added 6 points, 2 boards and 2 steals; Alden Remington 2 points, 3 boards and 5 assists; Spencer Harris 3 points and 2 steals.
On Thursday, Camas County geared its defense to shutting down Carey's 3-point shooting—for good reason because the Panthers (37% from 3-point land) are averaging seven 3-pointers a game. But 6-3 senior post Green made the decision hurt with 31 points including 10 points off offensive putbacks.
"That's what they gave us and Tadd went to town. And his confidence carried over to tonight," said coach Simpson after Friday's win at The Fish Tank gym in Sun Valley.
Cook added 14 points and 9 assists against Camas County while Bryan Hill chipped in a season-best 7 points and Devin Simpson had 6. Leading the Mushers were Logan Ivie (19 points) and Chase Ivie (11).
Carey finishes its pre-Christmas schedule this week with Tuesday's Northside Conference game at Dietrich (2-5, 0-3) and today's trip to Dubois in eastern Idaho for a non-league game against Clark County.
The situation will heat up after Christmas as the Panthers travel to Richfield (7-1, 3-0) on Friday, Jan. 6. Richfield, perhaps Carey's biggest challenge with two meetings coming up in January, lost its first game 53-50 at Mackay Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Cutthroats travel to Dietrich and Bliss Jan. 4 and 6.
NOTES—Coach Wade and his son Kevin were both excited Friday night. Kevin had just received his acceptance to the New York University Tisch School of Drama, for musical theater. Only 65 students are accepted each year, coach Wade said.....Carey's Tyler Cook is shooting 29-for-63 (46%) from 3-point territory and 26-for-33 (79%) from the free throw line....Compared to Carey's 37% average from the circle, opponents are shooting 23%....Tadd Green has 71 rebounds, 31 offensive. He also leads Carey with 12 steals and 16 blocks.