Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Carey, Troy back for another battle

Today at state hoops


Are the Carey School Panthers as good a boys' basketball team and as solid a defensive unit as they showed in their last two games—which were convincing victories over the highly-regarded Richfield Tigers and Murtaugh Red Devils?

Today's 1:15 p.m. opening round game between Carey (21-3) and the Troy Trojans (17-6) at the 16-team State 1A basketball tournament at Caldwell High School should be a good test of how far coach Dick Simpson's Carey team has come in a year.

Last March Carey ended an excellent 22-6 season with a 52-50 overtime loss to Troy in the State 1A consolation championship game. Keep in mind that Troy won the State 1A championship in 2005 and was the runner-up to Lapwai in 2006.

"Troy is a well disciplined and well coached team," said seventh-year Carey coach Dick Simpson (150-32), whose Panther squad will be making the school's 12th state tournament trip in 16 years. Carey has a 12-8 record in state tournament games over its last five trips including its best-ever state tournament finish of second place to Mackay back in 2001.

Defense may be the winning difference for this year's team.

"Our bread and butter has been our man-to-man defense. The kids have bought into it and have been playing it real tough," said Simpson.

Looking back to last year, a strong shooting Carey team got down to state and went completely cold, losing by 23 points to eventual state champion Genesee in the first round. And Carey shot poorly against Troy in its final game at state, but its defense pushed the battle for a trophy into an extra session.

This year, Carey's defense is better. That is reflected in field goal shooting for opponents (30% this year compared to 37% last year) and Carey having more defensive rebounds than its foes. Carey has kept opponents off the free throw line to a greater degree, yielding only 169 points at the stripe compared to 232 last season.

Defense has taken Carey to 13 wins in its last 14 games—and a current seven-game win streak. The Panthers captured their fourth Northside Conference title in six years with a 59-51 win over top-ranked Richfield Feb. 12 in Shoshone and a dominating 57-31 victory over Southside champ Murtaugh Thursday, at Murtaugh's gym.

There was no better example of what defense can do for a team than what sophomore Dillon Simpson did for Carey last Thursday at Murtaugh.

With his older brother D.J. Simpson in early foul trouble, Dillon turned up the defensive heat on top Red Devils scorer Taylor Wilson. Dillon (8 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists, 2 blocked shots) didn't score a point all night but seemed to do everything else for Carey.

Murtaugh's Wilson scored 12 points in the first half when Carey built a 29-21 lead, then Dillon Simpson shut him down in the second half when the Red Devils scored only four field goals and 10 points. His father, coach Dick Simpson said, "Dillon was the defensive sparkplug. He played the whole night and only picked up one foul."

It was Carey's fifth district championship in 10 years, three coming on the same Murtaugh court, and it was only the second time in 24 games that four Panther players scored in double figures. The coach said,

"We found the open man. Our ability to move and find someone open is the key to our success on offense this year."

Other Carey contributors included D.J. Simpson (12 points, 7 boards, 3 steals, 6 assists), Tyler Parke (15 points, 9 rebounds), Blake Whitby (a season-high 12 points, 6 boards, 2 steals, 2 assists), Kade Peterson (10 points, 8 boards), Trevor Peck (6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals) and Heith Adamson (1 point, 6 rebounds) and Brett Adamson (1 point).

Carey out-rebounded Murtaugh by an incredible 49-19.

A win over Troy today would crack some of the recent White Pine Conference, Second District dominance. Genesee and Lapwai, the top two teams in their district this year, and Troy have won state the past three years. Prior to that, northern Idaho hadn't won the small school title since 1985.

Richfield (23-1) has its chance against Genesee (20-3) today at 1:15 p.m. at Vallivue.




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