Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Panthers try to return to glory in 2013-14 season

Coach Merrilee Sears set standard at Carey

Express Staff Writer

     Last year, Merrilee Sears opened her first season as head coach by leading the Carey Panthers to a 17-7 record and by season’s end was handed the Idaho State 1A Division 2 consolation trophy.

     Without two major pieces back for another year, the Panthers will try to replicate a season in which they won the Northside Conference Tournament for the first time ever, were a No. 2 seed in the Idaho State Tournament and went 6-1 in league play.

     Much of that success was on the shoulders of Jaide and Morgan Parke, who led the Panthers. Jaide is attending Brigham Young University and Morgan is attending BYU-Idaho.

     How does a coach top a season like that while losing two of its top players? Setting the bar high and expecting the returning players to do the same.

     “I hope we’re more successful than last year. (The team) knows what my expectations are,” Sears said. “This is my second year, so they know how I function and what I expect of them. We have fun, but I like to be successful. If we go hard, we’ll be successful and I’m a true believer in that.”

     Setting a high standard won’t come without hurdles. What are those hurdles? Losing 90 percent of Carey’s scoring to graduation is a good start.

     According to Sears, the team losing its top players to graduation can be a good thing.

     “This year, we’ll be more rounded because any player could have a big night,” she said. “We don’t technically have any one person.”

     Lilly Rivera and Daphne Kirkland will be Carey’s two returning seniors for the 2013-14 season.

     Sears will be asking both Rivera and Kirkland to have leadership qualities this season if Carey wants to repeat last season’s success.

     Rivera averaged 5.4 points a game with a high of 13 points last year in a win against Shoshone.

     “Our seniors have to be the ones to step up and change things around,” Sears said.

“Our season will be a success
if our girls all improve to their potential,
work hard and come together as a team.”

Merrilee Sears

     With the opportunity for players to step up and take the helm of this team, Sears thinks her squad will be more versatile and quicker. They’ll be able to do more defensively.

     The low-post game will be a main strength for Carey. Losing huge point production will open the field for players to step up in the middle. Players such as Natalie Villanueva and Kylie Castle, two juniors who will have size at the post position, will be asked to carry a good portion of the load.

     Along with Villanueva and Castle, Carey will have junior Breana Harshbarger and sophomore Emily Squires down low at the post position.

     The Panthers will try to win games with meticulous defense and smart inside play. Sears wants her girls to be accountable on defense, as they’ll play man-to-man style defense.

     Guard play could be another strength for the Panthers as well, with junior post Paige Koudelka and sophomores Mariana Perez, Medin Cenarrusa, Hailee Johnson and Clarissa Kirkland.

     This year’s team will have a lot of room for improvement, but that’s what Sears wants in her team. They no longer have the offense they once did when they needed quick points, and despite their record at the end of the season, the Panthers season could be a success if there is significant growth as a team.

     “Our season will be a success if our girls all improve to their potential, work hard and come together as a team,” Sears said.

     In high school basketball, it’s not necessarily how the season starts, but how it ends. It’s all about peaking at the right moment.

     “I’m not too big on what happens in November, December and January,” said Sears. “I’m a fan of what happens in February. This season will be one game at a time.”

     The Panthers opened their season Tuesday night at home against Challis. Check for the sports brief Wednesday on the website for the results. The Panthers then will play away at Oakley on Thursday, Nov. 21.

2013-14 Carey girls Basketball Schedule

A total 18 games on the schedule for the 2013-14 Carey girls' varsity; 9 home and 9 away. Home games at Carey School gym. Home varsity games are listed in bold. In general, starting times are 6 p.m. JV and 7:30 p.m. varsity. When the girls and boys play on the same night at Carey, girls' JV starts 4:30 p.m. and girls’ varsity 6 p.m.

Nov. 12, Tuesday Jamboree Hagerman, 6:00
Nov. 19, Tuesday Challis Home, 5/6:30
Nov. 21, Thursday Oakley Away, 6/7:30
Nov. 26, Tuesday Shoshone Away, 6/7:30
Dec. 6, Friday Hagerman Home, 4:30/6
Dec. 7, Saturday Rockland Away, 3:30/5
Dec. 9, Monday ISDB (JV) Gooding, 5:00
Dec. 13, Friday Oakley Home, 4:30/6
Dec. 14, Saturday Challis Away, 5/6:30
Dec. 19, Thursday Shoshone Home, 4:30/6
Dec. 20, Friday Castleford* Away, 6/7:30
Jan. 7, Tuesday Dietrich Away, 6/7:30
Jan. 8, Wednesday Hagerman Away, 6/7:30
Jan. 9, Thursday Richfield (V)* Away, 6:00
Jan. 13, Monday Comm. School (JV) Sun Valley, 4:30
Jan. 16, Thursday Castleford Home, 4:30/6
Jan. 17, Friday Rockland Home, 5/6:30
Jan. 21, Tuesday ISDB (JV) Home, 4:30
Jan. 21, Tuesday Camas County (V) Home, 6:00
Jan. 23, Thursday Murtaugh* Away, 4:30/6
Jan. 28, Tuesday Bliss (JV) Away, 6:00
Jan. 30, Thursday Richfield (V) Home, 7:00
Feb. 4, Tuesday Lighthouse Christian Home, 4:30/6
Feb. 8, Saturday 4th District 1A Div. 2 tourney TBA
Feb. 20, Thursday State 1A Div. 2 tournament Nampa High School 
Feb. 22, Saturday State 1A Div. 2 championship Idaho Center, Nampa


NOTES—The 4th District 1A Division 2 girls' conference gets 2 seeds to state based on results of its league tournament. The top 2 teams in the varsity meet automatically qualify for the state tournament in Nampa…….At the state meet, the Dist. 4 champ plays the 3rd District (Boise area) runner-up in the first round, while the Northside runner-up meets the 3rd District champion.

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