It was a tournament atmosphere, with bleachers packed on both sides of the gym. The lines were long at the concession stand. Carey's state-bound cheerleaders entertained the crowd with their throws, and "Senior Night" festivities went off without a hitch Wednesday.
But it turned out to be a very subdued "Senior Night" for the Carey School boys' varsity basketball team. The youthful Panthers never got their offense in gear against the senior-laden Richfield Tigers. There was one word and one word only for the Panther shooting.
Idaho 1A Division 2 #2-ranked Richfield with its six seniors won with relative ease 49-32, snapping Carey's 12-game winning streak and handing the Panthers their first home setback of the prep campaign.
The result gave Richfield (16-3, 13-0 league) a season sweep of the Panthers and assured coach Garr Ward's Tigers of the first seed for the eight-team Northside Conference tournament debuting Tuesday, Feb. 24 on the same Carey hardwoods. After starting its season 4-3, Carey fell to 16-4, 11-3 in league.
It was supposed to be a lot closer, like Richfield's 52-50 home win over Carey Dec. 12. But Wednesday's game was all Richfield after an 8-8 tie. Senior Brody Norman (6 points, 12 rebounds) established the Tigers on the boards with seven rebounds in the first and point guard Michael Lezamiz ran the Tiger offense efficiently.
Richfield's perimeter defenders harassed Carey's guards with outside traps and zone defense tenacity. The Panthers shot a miserable 23% from the field on the night. Worst of all, Carey was only 1-for-16 (6%) from 3-point range, compared to the team's lofty 32% average from 3-point turf.
Tiger juniors Jose Rivas and Tucker Smith smothered Carey's top perimeter shooters Trevor Peck and Brett Adamson and never let them get good looks at long-distance shots. Carey didn't establish an inside game so its players could kick the ball out for an open shot.
Nothing worked for coach Dick Simpson's Carey boys.
The only time the Panthers made a run was when Lezamiz was benched with two personal fouls in the second quarter. The Panthers reeled off an 8-0 run and pulled within one point at 21-20, but Richfield senior Tel Clark pulled the trigger with a pair of 3-point bombs in the third period, which ended 37-26.
Richfield shot 34% led by Clark (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists), Lezamiz (10 points, 3 boards, 2 assists) and sturdy senior Luke Wood (10 points, 7 rebounds). The 49-point total was Richfield's lowest of the season. The Tigers average 62.1 ppg and yield only 42.7 ppg per game on defense.
Leading Carey (21 turnovers) were Dillon Simpson (6 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 6 assists, 2 blocks) and Trevor Peck (11 points, 4 boards). Others were Brett Adamson (5 points, 3 boards, 2 steals, 3 assists), Heith Adamson (4 points, 6 rebounds), Wacey Barg (4 points, 4 boards) and Jacy Baird (2 points, 6 rebounds).
Richfield is the only team to beat Carey in the last 30 Panther home games—49-32 Wednesday, 48-40 in 2008 and 37-28 in 2007. That 28-point game in 2007 was the last time the Panthers scored as few points as they did Wednesday.
Northside opens Tuesday
The first-round match-ups are set for the Northside 1A Division 2 tournament opening Tuesday, Feb. 24 in Carey. Out of the eight teams, the top three will qualify for the State 1A Division 2 tournament Thursday, March 5 at Caldwell.
Carey is seeking its 13th state tourney berth in 17 years. If Carey's shooting bounces back, Carey and Richfield could battle for the Northside championship next Saturday, Feb. 28. The two teams have been in the title game five straight years—Carey winning in even-numbered years and Richfield in odd-numbered years.
Here is Tuesday's schedule:
At 3:30 p.m., #3-seeded Dietrich (14-6, 10-4) vs. #6-seeded Community School (4-15, 4-10); at 5 p.m. #4-seeded Murtaugh (11-7, 9-5) vs. #5-seeded Bliss (5-11, 5-8); at 6:30 p.m. #2-seeded Carey vs. #7-seeded Camas County (3-16, 3-11); and at 8 p.m. #1-seeded Richfield vs. #8-seeded Magic Valley Christian (0-17, 0-14).