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For the week of February 21 through 27, 2001

Carey, Richfield go into Northside overtime

Rubber game settles league tournament, both to state

Energizing the small farm town, the marvelous two-season run of the Richfield Tigers boys’ varsity basketball team (45-7) has been based on three tenets of success—tenacity, talent and teamwork.

But 2000 State A-4 runner-up Richfield doesn’t have a monopoly on those fundamentals of winning, as Carey School’s upset-minded Panthers showed Monday in the Northside A-4 tournament championship game.

Richfield and Carey are both going to the State A-4 tournament Feb. 28-March 3 in Caldwell. Bragging rights in the conference and a better first-round match-up at state were at stake in their recent clashes—games that have drawn 1,000 fans to Shoshone’s gym this week and last week.

Playing scrappy defense and utilizing its advantage in quickness, #3-seeded Carey (16-7) rallied past top-seeded Richfield (21-2) by a 48-42 score Monday to force a deciding tournament game. The rubber game in the five-game season series was Tuesday night.

Carey senior Alex Peterson (16.1 ppg) scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter helping the Panthers erase a 35-30 Richfield lead. And the Panther defense held top Tiger scorer Quinton Kent (16.0 ppg) without a field goal in the last eight minutes. Kent finished with a team-high 15.

"Defense was the key," said Carey coach Lee Cook, whose squad limited Richfield to 31% field goal shooting while hitting 43% of its baskets.

"We set a goal to hold Quinton Kent to 15 points or less, and we achieved that. We wanted to contain Kent and Rouven Wagner, and I think we did that as well. On offense, we wanted to keep working the ball inside instead of taking the 3-point shot, and we did that."

The loss of 6-1 senior Blaise Exon to a knee injury in last Monday’s 55-47 Richfield victory over Carey altered the Tiger team chemistry and reduced the options of coach Garr Ward. Exon contributes 7-10 points per game, rebounds well and plays many key roles.

Still, Richfield’s fancy-passing and do-everything guard tandem of Kent and Wagner scored 18 of the 26 Tiger points in the middle quarters putting Richfield ahead 35-30 early in the fourth.

That’s when Carey’s ball-hawking defense ignited a 9-0 run that put the Panthers—the only team to beat Richfield this winter—ahead 39-35 and on the way to their second win of the season of the Tigers.

Peterson (8 rebounds, 3 steals) passed under the basket to senior point guard Tony Howard (14.7 ppg), who scored a big bucket. Howard finished with 15 points and 2 steals.

Howard (6 assists) returned the favor, finding Peterson for a 14-foot turnaround jumper. Then John Saili (7 rebounds, 2 blocks) blocked a shot, made a steal at mid-court and fed Jonathan Rivera on transition. Rivera passed to the trailer Peterson for a 36-35 Carey lead.

Another opportunistic defensive play was made by speedy senior Rivera (6 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), who stole a Tiger lob pass and ran the floor. He fed Peterson, who made the 3-point play for a 39-35 Carey lead.

Down the homestretch it was free throws (8-for-12 by Carey) making the 6-point difference. Carey has shot 60% from the line this winter and, in a reversal from previous Panther squads, has outscored opponents from the line 224-209.

Wagner and Mitch Lucero (three 3-pointers) each scored 11 for Richfield and Ben Fuchs had 4. Saili added 4, Trevor Hunt 2, Shawn Hennefer 2 and Cook 1 for Carey.

The winner of Tuesday’s Carey-Richfield contest will meet Southside Conference champion Raft River (14-8) and its junior sharpshooter Jacob Nelson (23.0 ppg, 9.0 rebounds) for the Fourth District A-4 title Thursday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. at Gooding High School.

Tuesday’s Carey-Richfield loser will play Hagerman (11-12) Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Gooding High for state seeding. Hagerman upset last year’s Fourth District king Oakley 47-46 Thursday at Filer to earn the Southside’s second seed.

The preliminary 5 p.m. game Thursday matches Shoshone (15-9) and Oakley (15-7), with the winner going to state and the loser going home. Oakley lost 56-51 to Raft River Wednesday then fell by one point to Hagerman Thursday.

Carey earned its seventh trip in nine years to the 16-team state tourney by beating #2-seeded Shoshone 51-44 last Tuesday at the Shoshone gym.

Once again playing strong defense and taking care of the ball, the Panthers jumped out to a 27-16 half-time lead, which is essential to succeed against coach Larry Messick’s deliberate Indian offense.

But Shoshone stormed back on the second-half shooting of Jackson Uhrig (17 points including five 3-pointers) and tied the game 40-40 before Carey (12-of-22 free throws) put it away with charities.

Carey coach Cook said, "We played hard, hung in there and prevailed. Jackson Uhrig just shot exceptionally well, hitting 3-pointers from eight-to-ten feet behind the arc. But we played really good defense on Shoshone’s other players."

Howard (7 points in the first, 7 in the fourth) tallied a game-high 19 including 9-for-15 at the line. Howard added 4 assists and 6 rebounds. The Panthers committed only 8 turnovers.

Coach Cook said, "Tony has really helped us this year."

Peterson had 11 points, 4 boards and 3 blocks. Rivera (10.5 ppg) added 4 points, 5 assists and 4 boards. Senior Lee Jay Cook (7.0 ppg) had 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Saili (5.9 ppg) had 7 points, 6 boards and 2 blocked shots.

Sophomore Shawn Hennefer has come up from Carey’s JV championship team and given the Panthers a shot in the arm. Hennefer scored a 3-pointer against Shoshone, and added 2 points and 3 rebounds in Monday’s win over Richfield.

Talking about the victory that earned the Panthers a trip to the state tournament, coach Cook said, "The kids were really tickled. Shoshone has been our Achilles heel, so it was a really big win for us."

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