Carey High School 5-11 junior Kayla Bailey didn't score a point against Shoshone Wednesday night.
But coach Lane Durtschi said she might have been Carey's Most Valuable Player during an extremely close 44-40 Panther victory over host Shoshone in the second round of the Northside 1A Sub-District girls' prep basketball tournament.
Bailey (10 rebounds, 6 blocked shots) patrolled the paint and prevented Shoshone from getting easy shots close to the basket that might have swung the game to the Indians.
Durtschi was quick to say that the rest of the #2-seeded Panthers (11-6) all played major roles in winning their sixth consecutive game—and taking their third close victory over Shoshone (by 6, 5 and 4 points).
"The girls are playing with confidence and believe in each other. It was a total team effort and I'm proud of them. One big thing was our free throws in the second half, especially by Kelsey Green at the end," he said.
Green (7-for-10 charities) calmly made her final four three throws as Shoshone, trailing 42-35 in the final seconds, made a 3-pointer and putback cutting its deficit to two. The #3-seeded Indians (9-13) never quit.
Neither did Carey.
Not only did the Panthers earn a berth opposite defending State 1A champion Richfield (19-2) in Saturday's Northside championship game, Carey's win over Shoshone clinched a trip for the Panthers to the Northside/Southside state-qualifying playoffs Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Murtaugh.
Carey's scoring star Wednesday was its only senior, southpaw guard Jennifer Cenarrusa (8.1 ppg). Cenarrusa (4 rebounds, 5 steals) scored a season-high 20 points, nine coming in the third when the Panthers took charge of a low-scoring game.
"Shoshone loves to slow it down. I just tried to keep the kids calm and they just kept fighting and fighting through," said Durtschi.
Turnovers, 32 for Shoshone and 28 for Carey, were a big part of a tight game that saw Carey leading 4-1 after one quarter and Shoshone going on top 13-11 at intermission.
Carey's full-court defensive pressure at the beginning of the third quarter sparked an 8-0 Panther run that put the visitors on top for good. Leading the way was Cenarrusa. She drilled a 3-pointer, then drove the lane and banked home a shot, and made it six points in a row when she stole a ball and scored on transition.
Shelby Hansen shoveled home a shot to restore a four-point Carey lead, which the Panthers maintained for much of the second half. Shoshone tied it 29-29 in the fourth, but Green banked one home on a Bailey pass and Cenarrusa scored on a clever back-door pass from Green.
Keeping Shoshone in the mix was its 5-7 senior Shaynee Gulliford (13 rebounds, 3 steals). She scored 10 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth when she was 8-for-8 from the free throw line (12-for-14 game). Gulliford single-handedly scored 19 of Shoshone's 27 second-half points.
Before fouling out, Indian sophomore Taylor Astle (10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) was a thorn in Carey's side, while sophomore Lacey Kniep (4 points, 2 boards, 2 assists) was a factor. Shoshone held a slim 35-34 advantage in rebounding.
Other Carey contributors besides Green (11 points, 4 rebounds, 6 steals) were Amy Ellsworth (5 points, 10 rebounds), Jessica Parke (4 points, 3 boards, 4 steals) and Shelby Hansen (4 points, 2 boards). Carey shot a season-best 17-for-24 at the line, and Shoshone went 18-for-26.
Carey earned a shot at Richfield in the tournament title game Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Shoshone. The high-scoring Tigers (56.6 ppg compared to Carey's 42.4 ppg) have won 14 straight games including Wednesday's 59-30 win over #4-seeded Dietrich (14-8).
"I anticipate us playing with Richfield as long as we are able to handle that first little early spurt they always seem to have," said Durtschi, whose team gave the Tigers a scare at home before falling 45-41 Dec. 11.
Thursday night, in loser-out games, Dietrich clashed with #6-seeded Camas County (4-14) and Shoshone challenged #4-seeded The Community School (3-11). The winners of Thursday's games will meet Saturday at 6 p.m. at Shoshone.
Loser of Saturday's Richfield-Carey game plays Monday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at Shoshone in the league's second-place game for one of the two automatic state tournament berths from the Northside Conference.
The first-place and second-place Northside teams travel to Murtaugh next Wednesday to play their Southside Conference counterparts for state tournament seeding purposes.
The third-place Northside team plays the third-place Southside team next Wednesday at Murtaugh, the winner advancing to the 16-team State 1A tournament Feb. 13-16 in Nampa and the loser going home.