By JON MENTZER
Express Staff Writer
The Carey High School girls basketball team started the season off on the right foot as it went on the road to take on the Oakley Hornets on Wednesday night, winning convincingly 50-26.
Junior guard Jaide Parke had a well-played all-around game as she led the Panthers with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while the entire team played excellent defense.
"They hustled and had intensity on defense," head coach Lane Durtschi said. "We didn't shoot the ball very well, but we hustled and our rebounding was good."
Carey (1-0) out-rebounded Oakley (0-1) 35-19, but Carey's defensive rebounding held strong because the Hornets had zero offensive rebounds, which meant no second-chance points.
Carey had 19 steals and forced Oakley to commit 47 turnovers.
Carey's tenacious rebounding essentially won the game. According to Durtschi, the game was close in the majority of the first half. Going into halftime, Carey was only up 21-14.
This was such a defensively minded game by both teams that Carey scored only two points in the second quarter. The Hornets were held to zero.
"Our intensity eventually took them out of the game," Durtschi said. "We picked them up at half-court pretty well. They have some talented girls, though."
Oakley, however, was anemic on offense and couldn't stop Carey on defense.
The Panthers shot 24 percent from the floor on 18-of-76 shooting. Parke shot 29 percent from the three-point line on 2-of-7 shooting.
Carey also hit shots when they were free. The Panthers shot 12-of-18 from the free-throw line.
Senior posts Darby Northcott and Micaela Adamson both threw in nine points each. Adamson pulled down 10 rebounds as Northcott grabbed six.
Junior post McKayla Mecham scored eight points and had four rebounds, and Morgan Parke scored six points and had three rebounds and two assists.
Senior post Nicole Gomez led the team with five assists while contributing four points and four rebounds.
The 50 points put up by the Panthers is higher than last season's 47.1 points per game average. The Panthers allowed only 43.9 points a game last season as well.
As the season is still fresh, Durtschi has high expectations for a team that went 10-11 last year and lost to Camas County 54-49 in the first round of districts.
According to Durtschi, last year's ups and downs were due to the inexperience of last year's team.
"We were young last year," Durtschi said. "But we didn't lose very many people—in fact, we almost have the entire team back. We'll have better offense and better defense. We're more experienced, too."
Carey has its starting lineup returning this year.
Carey was able to get a small dose of revenge. Carey lost to Oakley in last year's opener, 48-38.
Durtschi has four seniors on the team with three of them being posts. No doubt, this year's Panthers team will fight for a lot of rebounds and win most of them.
Gomez, Adamson and Northcott lead the frontcourt, which will be crucial for the season. Gomez was last year's captain, Adamson was last year's leading scorer down in the post and Northcott played an important role while coming off the bench. Senior Charmaine Kirkland will split time between post and guard this year.
And according to Durtschi, Mecham is the team's best rebounder.
The Panthers also have their returning leader in scoring. Parke, who averaged 14.1 ppg (her season high was 23 in a win over Lighthouse Christian), will lead a more experienced backcourt with sophomores Ashley Durtschi, Lilly Rivera and Daphne Kirkland.
"They work hard, which is always good," Durtschi said. "They have a lot more confidence than last year. They don't try to fill anyone's shoes, they just play. They know their roles better."
This year's team will be more balanced with both inside scoring and rebounding. However, the Panthers don't have much height. They have two players (Northcott and Parke) who are 5-8 and three players (Mecham, Adamson and Parke) who are 5-7.
If there are any weaknesses on this Panthers team, they're hard to find. Durtschi said that at times his team plays a little impatient. Which isn't necessarily a terrible thing—eagerness is a good quality. However, it must be matured and contained.
With an eager and more mature team on Durtschi's hands, his expectations are high this year.
Last year's team finished below .500, but that doesn't deter Durtschi from believing that his team can go to the state tournament. However, with a tough conference to play in, it won't be easy.
The Northside 4th District 1A Division 2 girls league features Camas County, Bliss, the Community School, Richfield and the reigning 1AD2 Idaho State Champions Dietrich Blue Devils.
The South Division is Castleford, Murtaugh and Lighthouse Christian.
When post-season play comes around, the Northside champion plays the northern Idaho champion in the first round, while the Northside runner-up goes against the Boise-area (District 3) champion.
The Panthers play their first home game on Nov. 22 against Challis at 6 p.m. Carey then travels for two straight away games against Camas County (Dec.1) and Challis (Dec.3).