It was a successful start for coach Lane Durtschi's Carey School girls' varsity basketball team Wednesday during the 16-team State 1A girls' prep basketball tournament at Nampa High School gym.
Shorter and scrappier, Carey (13-8) got a monster game from its leading scorer, sophomore guard Jessica Parke, in overtaking the taller Kootenai Warriors (8-13) by a score of 52-43 in one of eight first-round games played Wednesday in Nampa.
Parke (10.2 ppg), playing 31 minutes of hard-nosed basketball, scored 23 points along with a team-high 14 rebounds (12 offensive) and 8 steals as Carey's pressure defense broke open a tight game with a 31-22 advantage in the middle quarters.
Durtschi said, "Kootenai was very tall, with a 6-3 girl and a couple of 5-10 girls. They wanted to slow it down. But they had only one point guard who could handle the ball, and that point guard picked up her third foul early and went out of the game.
"We said, 'Let's get after it,' so we put on the press real hard and started creating turnovers. Jessica wasn't intimidated at all by Kootenai's big girls. She was the smallest girl on the court but she kept going inside and playing hard and getting after it, and she went to the free throw line a lot.
"She really stepped up for us—and we just got Kootenai frustrated."
Parke, a 5-5 sophomore, shot a heady 8-for-16 from the field and was 6-for-8 at the free throw line as Carey (13-for-27) outscored Kootenai 13-2 at the charity stripe. Carey's only senior, Jennifer Cenarrusa, scored 12 points with 5 rebounds.
Other Carey contributors were Kayla Bailey (2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Amy Ellsworth (6 points, 6 rebounds), Kelsey Green (7 points, 2 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists) and Shelby Hansen (2 points). The Panthers took care of the ball, with 9 turnovers compared to 28 for Kootenai.
With the victory, Carey advanced to play Genesee (15-9) Thursday at Nampa High School. Genesee placed fourth in last year's State 1A tournament won by Richfield over Garden Valley. Coach Durtschi watched a little of Genesee's first-round win over Cascade (20-4) Wednesday.
He said, "Genesee is a really good team. They play great defense. The girls are excited to win this first game but we know our work is cut out for us. We'll just have to play great defense ourselves, try not to be intimidated and take care of the ball."
It is Carey's first state tournament trip since 2000 when the Panthers went 1-2 including a 38-point win over Kootenai, at Kuna. And it's only the fourth state trip for Carey.
Other Fourth District teams advancing with wins Wednesday were state champ Richfield (21-3) over Tri-Valley, and Raft River (17-7) over Lapwai 53-5. It was an upset when top-ranked Hagerman (20-4) lost 54-40 to #4-ranked Kendrick (21-4). Also, Dietrich (15-10) lost 46-41 to #3-ranked 2007 state runner-up Garden Valley (20-4).