Brad Hunt didn't score much in Carey School's first three boys' basketball games of the season, but he made up for lost time during the four-team Murtaugh tournament.
Hunt, a talented Panther senior who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, erupted for 41 points in Carey's 66-64 and 66-44 victories over Dietrich and Valley that gave Carey its second consecutive Murtaugh tournament title.
The 5-10 senior wears #2 on his uniform jersey but he was #1 to Carey faithful Friday and Saturday at Murtaugh, where Hunt nearly equaled his entire 49-point output achieved during Carey's 24-3 state tournament season of 2006.
Hunt scored only 12 points in Carey's first three games, although he started warming up with a gritty 10-point effort in Carey's 66-59 title game loss to the #2-ranked Challis Vikings Dec. 2 in the Carey Holiday Tournament finale.
At Murtaugh, however, Hunt was on fire from the field, hitting 20 of his 33 shots (61%).
No one was happier for Hunt that coach Dick Simpson, who wanted to come out of his team's early-season tournament stretch with a first place to go with the second at Carey.
But a championship game berth almost didn't happen.
Simpson's Panthers had a tough back-and-forth game against Dietrich (1-5, 0-1) Friday yet hung on for the two-point triumph behind 20 points by Hunt, 11 by Allen Peck, 10 by D.J. Simpson, 9 by Cody Baird, 8 by Tyler Parke and 8 by James Carlson. Dietrich's Dakota Norman had 17.
Carey shot 38% from the field including 14% from 3-point territory. Parke (15 rebounds) was big on the boards helped by Carlson (7 rebounds) and Simpson (4 assists, 3 blocks) did well off the ball.
Simpson's squad drew Valley (1-3) for Saturday's title game after the Vikings handled Murtaugh (2-2) by a score of 63-51 Friday. The Panthers had the hot hand early, shooting 50% in taking an overwhelming 39-13 halftime lead.
Hunt ended with 21 points and 16 rebounds against Valley. Peck (four 3s weekend) added 18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 steals, 3 assists in a fine overall effort.
Other Carey contributors were Simpson 10 points, 9 rebounds (7 offensive), 3 blocks and 3 steals; Parke 7 points and 6 rebounds; Kyle Brooks 3 points; Carlson 3 points and 4 rebounds; Kade Peterson 2 points and Blake Whitby 2. Valley's Jordan Bruning scored 13.
Murtaugh beat Dietrich 63-48 for the consolation title.
Its early-season tournaments done, Carey (4-1, 0-0) opens its Northside Conference title defense with games Thursday, Dec. 14 against Camas County (1-4, 0-2) in Fairfield and at home Friday, Dec. 15 hosting The Community School (3-2, 0-1 league).
Home games against familiar Murtaugh tournament opponents Dietrich and Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 19-20 finish the pre-Christmas schedule for Carey.