There was no doubt in the mind of Carey School girls' basketball coach Merrilee Sears that her Panthers were playing their best basketball at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Carey's season ended triumphantly Saturday with the third-place trophy in the State 1A Division 2 tournament at Nampa High School gym. The Panthers defeated Mackay 47-43 to earn that distinction.
Junior guard Jaide Parke (14.8 ppg) tied the classification record with five 3-pointers in the victory over Mackay. She finished with 28 points and averaged 20.3 ppg in three state games to lead the Panthers.
The Panthers also beat Tri-Valley of Cambridge 46-37 in their opening game Thursday—rallying from an 11-point halftime deficit for the win. Carey ended its season by winning 12 of its final 16 games and had an amazing 12-5 road record.
Not only did Carey (16-8) bring back a trophy from state for the third time in four years for coaches Sears and Lane Durtschi, the Panthers played the most exciting game of all 66 contested over three days in the Treasure Valley at state.
Friday afternoon, Carey and Summit Academy of Cottonwood battled through a thrilling three-overtime semi-final game—44 minutes and nearly two hours of back-and-forth action that frazzled both teams and their devoted fans.
Summit Academy, led by the superlative performance of 6-1 senior post Savanah Prigge (37 points, 23 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 blocked shots), rallied from a 10-point deficit with three minutes left in regulation and finally snuck past Carey 73-70.
Prigge tallied 26 of her points after intermission. She scored the most single-game points of all players in all six divisions last weekend at state basketball, and she and her Patriots squad set all kinds of classification scoring records.
So, you might have thought that Carey and Summit Academy would have had nothing left in their tanks Saturday in their games for a state trophy—Carey playing Mackay for third place and Summit Academy tackling defending champion Dietrich for all the marbles at The Idaho Center in Nampa.
Summit Academy (19-7), leading 22-15 at half, pushed Dietrich (24-0) to the limit before falling 53-52 in overtime. Prigge (23 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) did all she could before fouling out with 45 seconds left. Dietrich (9-for-24 3-pointers) put Charley Bingham (15), Moriah Dill (13) and Kendra McConnell (11) in doubles.
Coach Acey Shaw's Blue Devils won their second straight title game in overtime.
Meanwhile, Carey pulled away from its 19-18 halftime lead against Mackay by shooting 41% in the second half and polishing off the Miners (14-9) by a 47-43 score. Mackay had ousted last year's state runner-up Richfield 31-25 in the first round and then lost to Dietrich 31-25 in Friday's semis.
Parke (10-for-26 shooting, 5-for-9 from 3-point range) played all 32 minutes and got plenty of help from her teammates.
Senior Micaela Adamson (12.2 ppg, 16.7 ppg at state) finished with 8 points, 10 boards and 2 assists against Mackay. Senior Darby Northcott (3.7 ppg) did some of her best work at state like her 8-point, 6-rebound, 2-assist effort against the Miners. Topping Mackay was junior post Bailey Woodbury (18 points, 8 rebounds).
With her strong state effort particularly in the Summit Academy game, Adamson finished her four-year career with 785 points and moved into fifth place on the all-time Carey scoring list. Parke, meanwhile, now has 842 points for third place with one more season to try to catch older sister Jessica Parke (1,129 points) and second-place Kathy Simpson (1,047).
Adamson, Northcott and Nicole Gomez were competing in their third state tournament in four seasons as varsity players. Their Panther teams put up a 61-36 record during those four years. Last weekend was Carey's seventh visit to state (10-10 in games) and its third straight trophy performance.
Richfield (19-8) went on to capture the consolation title 40-36 over Tri-Valley Saturday led by seniors Michaela Edwards (11 points), junior Danielle Edwards (12) and senior guard Sasha Kent (10). The Tigers rallied from a 28-22 deficit after three periods for the victory.
In other state classes:
Prairie (21-4) won the 2A title 61-51 over Troy (20-6); and Butte County of Arco (23-3) captured its first State 3A championship since 2007 by a 52-48 score over Kamiah.
For all six classifications, Boise-area teams (13-25 at state) had an awful first day, winning only three of 12 games; northern Idaho teams (19-11) went 10-1 on the first day and then fizzled out with only three wins on the final day; and eastern Idaho teams (18-20) won five trophies on the final day.
The best final-day showing came from south-central Idaho.
Despite entering only eight teams and finishing with a combined 13-9 record, the local Magic and Wood River Valley teams won six trophies in seven tries on the final day—with Wood River, Dietrich, Carey, Richfield, Filer in 3A and Declo 2A taking trophies.
Here are Carey's final stats:
Overall record: Carey 16-8 (4-3 home, 12-5 away). Offense: 1129 points (47.0 ppg). Defense: 991 points (41.3 ppg). Individual scoring: Jaide Parke 356 points (14.8 ppg), 16 double figures, 19.2 ppg in conference tournament, 20.3 ppg state; Micaela Adamson 292 (12.2 ppg), 16.7 ppg state; Morgan Parke 160 (6.7 ppg); Nicole Gomez 148 (6.2 ppg); Darby Northcott 89 (3.7 ppg); Angelica Zarate 19 points; McKayla Mecham 15; Lilly Rivera 16; Ashley Durtschi 13; Paige Koudelka 6; Natalie Villaneuva 6; Kylie Castle 4; Charmaine Kirkland 2; Breana Harshbarger 2. 3-pointers (44): Jaide Parke 32, Northcott 5, Gomez 2, Adamson 2, Rivera 2, Zarate 1. Free throws: Carey, 203-371, 55%; opposition 267-468, 57%.
Thrilling 3 OT game
In its Friday afternoon semi-final, Carey knew Summit Academy would provide a serious test, if only because of pedigree and recent history.
Seventh-year Patriots coach Pete Prigge played college basketball for the University of Idaho from 1981-84 and remains on two all-time Vandal top-10 lists. He is ranked sixth in single-season rebounds in 1984 (287, 10.6 per game) and eighth in career free throw percentage (80%).
His excellence in those two areas, rebounding and free throw shooting, certainly rubbed off on his daughter Savanah. In the triple OT thriller, she pulled down 23 rebounds, eight of those in the fourth quarter alone when the Patriots needed to rally from a 10-point deficit with 3:03 to play.
For the game, Prigge made 13-of-15 free throws including 6-for-6 in the second and third overtimes when she scored 8 of her 37 points. Her 74 tournament points (24.7 ppg) were the most of any player at state last weekend.
And, over 11 state tournament games for her four-year varsity career, the lithe 6-1 Prigge scored 182 points (16.6 ppg) with 135 rebounds (12.3 per game). She led the Patriots to the State 1A Division 2 consolation championships in 2010 over Clark Fork and in 2011 over Garden Valley.
Going two-and-out when Prigge was a freshman including a first-round 44-39 loss to Carey in 2009, Summit Academy proceeded to go 6-3 at state the past three years, all the wins by double-digit margins. This year's championship game appearance and second-place finish was the best-ever state performance by the Christian school from northern Idaho.
When Friday's game started, two things were apparent right away. First of all, Carey's leading scorer Jaide Parke was ice cold from the perimeter. Secondly, the Panthers were no match inside against Prigge, who scored 7 of her team's 11 points in the first eight minutes for a 11-10 Patriot lead.
Finally, Parke warmed up, her first of four 3-pointers giving Carey its first lead, 17-16 midway through the second period.
A steal by Micaela Adamson (24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 assists) led to a Jaide Parke transition bucket, then Adamson scored on a fast break for a 26-24 Carey lead at intermission.
The strong rebounding of Morgan Parke (13 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 1 blocked shot) was instrumental in Carey stretching its lead to 10 points in the third quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Parke on passes from Darby Northcott (6 points, 6 boards, 2 assists) made it 37-27.
But the Patriots rallied with a 7-0 run cutting the lead to 37-34. At that point, Adamson collected her third personal foul and coach Sears called time out. She gave the Panthers a piece of her mind, Adamson getting the brunt of the lecture, and Micaela was on fire for the rest of the game.
Adamson scored six of Carey's next eight points including a very tough jumper in the paint. When senior Nicole Gomez (3 steals, 3 assists) made both free throws on a one-and-one situation, Carey's lead crested at 51-41 with 3:03 left in regulation. That's when Prigge set her mind to a comeback.
Prigge got her own rebound for a putback. Her father ordered Summit Academy to press, and the Patriots rattled Carey (8 turnovers in the 4th).
An 8-0 run fueled by steals reduced Carey's lead to 51-49. Two free throws by Jaide Parke boosted the lead to 53-49, but Adamson drew her fourth personal with 36 seconds left. Prigge had two chances. She made both charities.
Just before the buzzer, Patriots freshman Kayla Schumacher (12 of her 15 points after half) converted a basket after a steal for a 53-53 game.
In the first four-minute OT, Carey capitalized on four Patriot turnovers to carve out a 59-55 lead when Northcott made two free throws. Then, Prigge stole the ball and scored in transition for a 59-57 game. Despite her foul problems, Adamson blocked a shot but Summit Academy retained possession.
On the inbounds pass from Brooke Schumacher (7 points, 2 boards, 5 steals, 2 assists), Patriot sophomore Rachael Frei was fouled and made both shots. Carey had the ball with 16 seconds remaining in the 59-59 tie game but couldn't get a good shot.
Adamson scored all 4 points for Carey in the second OT—but it looked like Summit Academy was going to prevail when Brooke Schumacher stole the ball at midcourt with seconds left. But she missed the lay-up.
In the third OT, Prigge made a hard drive down the lane and Adamson picked up her fifth personal foul just 10 seconds into the period. A real warrior for Carey, Adamson cried unabashedly at having to leave the game.
Prigge went 6-for-6 at the line in the third OT and Summit got two timely buckets from senior Nicole Frei (10 points). Still, clutch baskets by Northcott after a rebound, by Morgan Parke with a lovely bank shot and by Jaide Parke with a driving basket, made it 71-70 Summit with 28 seconds on the clock. Two charities by Prigge with 16 seconds left made it 73-70.
A rebound by Morgan Parke of a missed Patriots free throw at the five-second mark gave Carey one final chance. Jaide Parke brought the ball to midcourt and lined up a long 3-pointer that was on line, but just short.
"You've been treated to quite a game," the announcer said.
And it was.