Out-rebounded 36-22, beaten badly at the free throw line and wondering where its shooting went, the CareyHigh School boys’ basketball team was moored on the rocks and seemingly headed for defeat Wednesday night at Murtaugh.
Somehow, someway, Carey (21-2) pulled off a miracle rally with a 32-point fourth quarter explosion and overcame the Castleford Wolves (17-2) by a 57-56 score on a Baley Barg 3-point play with four seconds left, after a Shane Bingham pass.
The outcome sent Carey’s team and rooting section into a delighted frenzy. With the win, the Panthers clinched their 15th state tournament berth in 19 years and earned their sixth conference tourney championship in the past nine winters.
It was Carey’s 14th consecutive win as the Panthers remained unbeaten in 2011.
Carey, leading only once in the game at 2-0, faced an uphill battle against Castleford in the championship contest of the eight-team 4th District tournament. Behind the whole way, the Panthers trailed by 14 points in the third and by 13 points with five minutes left.
But coach Dick Simpson‘s determined Carey squad never gave up and threw a withering full-court press at the Wolves in the final five minutes. Little by little the Panthers nibbled away at the deficit. They were still down by five points with only 69 seconds remaining.
Simpson said, “We pushed the ball and attacked the basket, took whatever open shot that was there and just tried to get back into the game.”
Barg, a junior playing with four fouls, led the way in attacking the basket on offense. Held scoreless in the first half, senior top scorer Blair Peck (14.1 ppg) shrugged off Castleford’s in-your-face defense and scored all 18 of his points after half—12 coming in the fourth—including four 3-pointers.
Defense fueled the rally but Carey still needed to score.
His team trailing 53-48 with 1:09 left, Barg took a Jacy Baird pass in the paint and scored a bucket. He went to the free throw line on Carey’s next possession, was fouled and made the first of two. Baird rebounded Barg’s second shot, scored and finished a 3-point play, trimming the lead to 55-54.
After a blocked shot by Baird with 31 seconds left, Carey had a chance to seize the lead and Barg found a seam for a driving shot. It was a good look but, influenced by the defense of Castleford’s Kale Weekes, Barg’s shot went off the mark. Wolves senior Dylan Kinyon grabbed the rebound.
Baird quickly fouled Kinyon, his fifth personal foul, and Kinyon went to the free throw line with eight seconds on the clock. Remember, Castleford (34-of-39, 87%) had been nearly flawless at the stripe Wednesday. After missing their first charity in the first period, the Wolves (16-for-20 4th) made 21 free throws in a row.
“We knew they were good foul shooters, and that’s why I didn’t go to the press until I did three minutes into the fourth quarter,” said Simpson.
Kinyon missed his first free throw and made the second for a 56-54 lead. The Panthers needed to get the ball up the floor in a hurry. Lightning-fast Bingham did just that. He ran the ball in a flash over the mid-court line. Just as quickly, he spotted Barg going to the hoop.
Bingham said, “I got it down the court as fast as I could and saw Baley cut that lane and got it to him.”
Barg made no mistake this time on his driving basket attempt and rolled it home for a 56-56 tie with four seconds left. He drew the foul in the process. Barg said, “I had the open lane so I took it.”
Barg went to the free throw line, calmed his nerves and buried the shot, backpedaling with a huge smile on his face. But Castleford still had four seconds to go from end-to-end. Junior Mitch Howard dribbled it down and took a tough-angle shot from the corner, with Carey’s Blair Peck defending.
Howard’s potential game-winning shot was short, no good. And Carey went wild.
Barg (8.9 ppg, 14.0 ppg tournament) finished with a season-high 17 points, 12 coming in the second half. He topped the Panthers with 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. He said, “We’re a good team, and we hung together all the way through the game and season.”
Bingham (4 rebounds, 3 steals, 5 assists) didn’t score but he was a major factor.
Carey finished 18-of-29 from the line including 13-of-18 in the fourth. Other contributors were Baird (7 points, 3 boards, 2 steals, 1 block), Chance Chavez (5 points), Caleb Cenarrusa (3 points, 2 assists), Joey Laidlaw (2 points) and Dillon Cenarrusa (2 points, 2 rebounds).
Junior Jack Cenarrusa (3 points, 2 assists) came off the bench early in the fourth and sparked Carey with a 3-point play and assists on 3-point shots by Peck and Chavez.
Giving Carey lots of problems in the paint and at the line was Castleford’s 6-2 senior Tyler Hansen (game-high 20 points and 15 rebounds, 14-of-15 at the free throw line). Howard (4 boards) and Kale Weekes (6 rebounds, 5 steals) added 11 points each. But Carey (32% field goal shooting) ended up with 17 field goals, to just nine for Castleford (23% field).
Castleford tried to stay alive Thursday in the tournament second-place game against Murtaugh (12-7), a 53-52 winner over Dietrich (14-8) in Wednesday’s preliminary contest.
The Panthers next play in the eight-team State 1A Division 2 meet Thursday, March 3 at 1:15 p.m. at Caldwell High School against the Boise-area runner-up team. Carey finished second to Nezperce in last year’s state tournament.
Panther junior varsity second to Dietrich
Eighth-year Carey junior varsity coach Danny Simpson guided the Panthers to second place in the 4th District junior varsity tournament Tuesday at Murtaugh.
Defending champion Carey (16-7) was outscored 22-2 at the free throw line and fell 61-50 to last year’s runner-up Dietrich. There were 29 fouls whistled in the final game of the four-team JV tournament—and 20 were called on Panther players. The Blue Devils captured the JV title for the second time in three years. Interestingly, Dietrich also had a big free throw shooting advantage (19-of-38 compared to Carey’s 9-12) in last year’s championship game, but Carey rallied from a seven-point fourth quarter deficit to win 51-48 with Barg making a clutch 3-point play at the end of the game.
Carey contributors in Tuesday’s championship game were Jordan Dilworth (14 points, 2 rebounds, 4 steals), Garret Lee (13 points, 9 rebounds), Sheldon Hansen (12 points, 3 assists), Francisco “Poncho” Gamino (5 points, 4 rebounds), Luis Garcia (4 points, 2 rebounds), Gunner Thompson (2 points) and Glen Andrews (3 rebounds).
For the season, Carey (48.5 ppg offense, 36.9 ppg defense) out-rebounded its opponents 790-534 but was outscored 207-125 at the free throw line. The Panthers shot only 33% (125-for-374) at the line in 23 games. However, their advantage over opponents in steals was 308-173.
Leading scorers were Jordan Dilworth (197 points, 8.6 ppg, 20-for-78 3-pointers), Sheldon Hansen (166 points, 7.2 ppg), Francisco Gamino (131 points, 5.7 ppg), Garret Lee (108 points, 4.7 ppg), Patrick Baird (99 points, 4.3 ppg) and Gunner Thompson (83 points, 3.6 ppg).
Top rebounders were Baird (134, 5.8 per game), Lee (121, 5.3 per game) and Gamino (100, 4.3 per game). Jordan Dilworth (66 steals, 69 assists) led those two categories, while Baird and Lee tied for most blocked shots (21 each). Hansen (41%) was the best free throw shooter among regulars, and Baird (44%) shot the best from the field. Playing the most minutes were Hansen and Dilworth. Other players on the team were Christian Zarate, Jayce Koudelka, Alex Ramsey, Quinnton Adams,, Bryson Van Every and Tori Alvarez.
Coach Simpson has now played in the conference JV championship game each of his eight coaching seasons, and boasts five first-place finishes and three second places.