The Carey School boys' basketball team had its hands full with the talented Glenns Ferry tandem of seniors Adrian Martinez and Chris Popoca on Tuesday in the 2011-12 season opener at the Panther pen.
Popoca (23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists) and Martinez (16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals, 3 assists) picked the Panthers apart with their scoring and passing. Glenns Ferry's Pilots prevailed 62-50 in the nonleague game.
Still coming to grips with the challenges of basketball after its state runner-up eight-man football season lasted until Nov. 18, Carey (0-1) saw its 22-game home-court winning streak come to an end. The host Panthers made 25 turnovers.
However, Glenns Ferry (1-0) is a new and worthy opponent on the beefed-up Carey basketball schedule. Coach Nate Jones' guided his 19-5 Pilots to the State 2A boys' basketball tournament two years ago.
Last year, playing in 1A Division 1 for the first time, Glenns Ferry (11-16) carried a sub-par record into the league tournament and surprised everyone with its tournament run. The Pilots ousted favored Hagerman and took second-place Grace down to the wire before falling 50-41 in a fight for the league's second state berth.
The sky could be the limit for Glenns Ferry if Martinez and Popoca operate at the level they demonstrated Tuesday in the first meeting of the schools.
Carey led early 8-3, but the Pilots applied full-court defensive pressure virtually the entire game and caused some turnover woes for the Panthers.
Martinez stole the ball and scored on transition for a 10-8 Pilot lead midway through the first quarter and Glenns Ferry never trailed again. Popoca tallied 10 of his game-high 23 in the second period helping the Pilots to a 32-25 cushion at half.
The Panthers got their shots but missed quite a few easy ones, not really surprising because of their late start to the season. Senior Dillon Cenarrusa, who had a good game on both ends, scored on a Carey counterattack, cutting the Pilots lead to 37-33—then Martinez tallied eight straight points including two 3-pointers on an 8-0 Pilot run for a 45-33 lead.
Glenns Ferry's lead topped out at 17 points late in the fourth quarter as Carey committed 10 of its 25 turnovers in the final eight minutes.
Carey coach Dick Simpson, trying to integrate his five veteran seniors with last year's junior varsity players making their varsity debuts, did see some promising things. The Panthers were aggressive on the offensive boards and finished with a 35-25 edge in rebounding over Glenns Ferry.
When senior guard Jack Cenarrusa got into early foul trouble, 5-10 junior Sheldon Hansen entered the game and scored seven points in the second period alone. Junior Patrick Baird hauled down three boards in limited action. Junior Garrett Lee had four points.
The main load fell on seniors Baley Barg and Dillon Cenarrusa, and they responded well. Both finished with double-doubles—Barg with a team-high 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists and a blocked shot, Cenarrusa with 14 points, 10 boards, 2 steals and 3 assists.
Other Carey contributors were Chance Chavez (3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists), Charlie Rivera (2 boards, 6 steals), Jack Cenarrusa (3 points, 4 rebounds) and Sheldon Hansen (8 points).
Glenns Ferry coach Jones used nine players and eight ended up in the scoring—sophomore guard Ruben Juarez (7 points) showing solid signs for the Pilot future and 5-10 senior Marcos Garcia (6 points, 3 boards) pulling his weight close to the basket.
Carey stays at home and entertains another 1A Division 1 contender when the Hagerman Pirates arrive today, Friday for a 7:30 p.m. varsity game. The Panthers travel to Challis on Saturday, Dec. 3.