The Carey High School boys' varsity basketball team is happy to have three weeks off for the Christmas holiday.
Carey, coming off a 12-game football season and a disappointing loss in the State 1A Division 2 title game Nov. 18, jumped right into the basketball season—and the most rigorous early-season schedule any Panther team has faced.
Tuesday, Carey (2-4) went into a tough gym at Arco and dropped a 75-62 nonconference decision to the top-ranked 2A Butte County Pirates (6-0).
Highlight was a career-high 29 points by Carey senior Baley Barg (16.2 ppg). He has stepped it up this winter, having averaged 9.5 ppg for Carey's state hoops title team last year. On Tuesday, Barg (10 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists) shot 10-for-21 from the field with a 3-pointer and 8-for-13 from the line.
The final score represented the most points scored against a Carey boys' basketball team in 229 games and 10 years, dating to 2001 and a 79-67 home loss to Murtaugh's Red Devils.
"We'll have to work harder and play better defense," said Carey's 11th-year head coach Dick Simpson (222-49). "We're playing tough teams, but we really haven't gotten into a rhythm yet this season."
Coach Jason Hansen's Pirates are chasing the school's first state berth since 1998 after last winter's 16-7 season and near miss in a state play-in game. "They shoot well and they're fast," said Simpson.
Indeed, Butte County shot 55% from the field Tuesday, compared to Carey's 37%. Saddled with fouls in the first half, Butte County's Daniel Isham scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to help the Pirates to their sixth win.
Other contributors were Sheldon Hansen (10 points, 4 assists, 3 steals), Dillon Cenarrusa (8 points, 6 rebounds), Chance Chavez (6 points, 2 steals, 2 assists), Garrett Lee (6 points), Charlie Rivera (3 steals) and Gunner Thompson (3 points). Jack Cenarrusa was sick and didn't play at Arco.
Carey doesn't play again until after the New Year, and has three straight rematches that first week against bigger schools—at Valley Jan. 3, home against Butte County Friday, Jan. 5 and home against the Glenns Ferry Pilots Jan. 6. The Panthers lost the first games to each of those three teams.
Simpson said he hopes to have junior point guard Jordan Dilworth (broken collarbone) back by early or mid-January.
"We've had some good games and we've had our opportunities to win," he said.
He added, "I think if we had won the championship in football, we could very well be 5-1 in basketball, because of the mental aspect. These kids haven't lost many games in basketball. I think they may have been second-guessing themselves after the football loss.
"Hopefully having Jordan back in January will help us with our rotation."
Buhl takes rematch with WRHS
The Buhl Tribe (2-3) won the second half again in a game against the Wood River Wolverine boys—only this time Buhl collected a non-conference hoops victory 49-31 on its homecourt Tuesday.
Buhl 6-3 sophomore guard Kade Crossland (23 points) led the way as the Tribe outscored Wood River 25-9 in the second half. Last Thursday in Hailey, the Wolverines built a 28-8 halftime lead and hung on for a 55-46 victory, Buhl winning the second half by a 38-27 count.
Wood River scorers were Stone Sutton 15 points, Ben Williams 5, Luis Lopez 4, Austin Hafer 3, Dylan Carey 2 and Jake Vegwert 2.
The Twin Falls Bruins (4-1) visit Hailey today, Friday for the Great Basin Conference opener. Led by guard Eric Harr, the Bruins nipped host Filer 54-48 Saturday and also bested Filer 49-42 Wednesday. Twin Falls placed third in last winter's State 4A tourney.