To no one's great surprise, prep boys' basketball teams from Carey High School and Castleford will clash for the Northside Conference tournament title and an automatic state tourney berth today, Wednesday at Murtaugh.
Defending Northside king Carey (20-2) posted its sixth consecutive 20-win season Monday with a close 33-31 win over host Murtaugh (10-7) in a semi-final game of the eight-team 1A Division 2 tournament. Earlier, Castleford (17-1) handled Dietrich (13-7) 61-35 in the other semi-final match-up.
Carey's win over Murtaugh was a rematch of last February's Northside tourney title game won by Carey by 21 points—but Monday it was a lot closer with good defense and poor shooting by both teams (27% Red Devils, 30% Carey, 1-for-12 Carey on 3-pointers).
Baley Barg (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Blair Peck (10 points) paced the Panthers, who led 19-12 after three quarters of a low-scoring game.
The Panthers coached by Dick Simpson will try to clinch the school's 15th state tournament trip in 19 years with a win over Castleford in tonight's 8 p.m. championship game. The Wolves handed Carey one of its two losses, 53-50 at home Dec. 7.
Plenty is at stake regarding state seedings in today's title contest. The Northside runner-up team has drawn the 2nd District champion for its first state game—and last year's state champion, Nezperce, came out of the 2nd District. The Northside champion opens up against the Boise-area runner-up for its first state game.
Whichever team loses tonight's championship game will have another shot at making state in the Northside second-place game Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Murtaugh. The loser of Thursday's second-place game advances to state play-in Saturday, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. in American Falls.
Nezperce is the defending State 1A Division 2 champion, having beaten Carey 57-56 in last year's title game. Castleford moved down from Division 1 to Division 2 after losing last year's 1A Division 1 state title game 52-48 to Prairie.
The eight-team State 1A Division 2 meet is Thursday, March 3 through Saturday, March 5 at Caldwell High.
Also Monday, Camas County of Fairfield (7-15) ousted The Community School of Sun Valley (1-15) by a 67-33 score, and Lighthouse Christian Academy of Twin Falls (7-15) eliminated Richfield (6-13) by a 49-38 score.
Lighthouse played Murtaugh and Camas County clashed with Dietrich in two loser-out varsity games Tuesday, while defending junior varsity champion Carey tackled Dietrich in the JV title game also on Tuesday.
Burley ends WRHS boys' season
The top-seeded Minico Spartans (21-1) earned the school's first state boys' basketball tournament berth in 22 years Saturday as the six-team Great Basin Conference tournament continued on the Rupert floor.
Minico defeated Jerome 48-31, sending the #2-seeded Tigers (15-7) to the second-place game Tuesday, Feb. 23 against #3-seeded Twin Falls (17-6). Reigning league and State 4A king Twin Falls eliminated #4-seeded Canyon Ridge (9-15) of Twin Falls 63-49 Monday at Twin Falls High School.
Coach John Radford's #6-seeded Wood River Wolverines (0-21) saw their season come to an end Thursday with a 67-37 loss at #5-seeded Burley (5-17). Senior Alex Padilla (10 points), junior Stone Sutton (8 points), soph Ben Williams (8) and senior Kevin Jensen (5) led Hailey.
Sutton (257 points, 13.5 ppg, 15 double-digit games) topped Wood River in scoring for the second straight year followed by Padilla (130 points, 6.2 ppg) and Jensen (77 points, 3.7 ppg). The Wolverines averaged 33.3 ppg on offense and 56.2 ppg defense this winter.