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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Nov 28 - Dec 4, 2001


Carey rebuilds from state runner-up perch

Panther boys will run and gun

Where do you go after you’ve been in the championship game of the state high school basketball tournament?

If you’re the Carey School Panthers, you go back to work.

Carey (20-9) certainly had a dream season in 2000-01, making an amazing reversal from a five-win rebuilding season and battling all the way into the State A-4 championship game.

Mackay’s Miners (20-4) achieved a rare three-peat with a 73-46 win that ended Carey’s dream season in the finale at The Idaho Center in Nampa.

Nevertheless it was the best-ever state tourney finish for a Carey cage program that has recently enjoyed considerable success, posting five 20-win seasons and an 184-86 record in 11 campaigns since 1991.

"We had an excellent year," said Carey coach Lee Cook. "The kids played above their abilities. To make the final game we came back to beat a team, Oakley, that had beaten us twice during the season."

The bad news is Carey lost four starters including first-team All-State player Alex Peterson (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rebounds) plus leading assist men Tony Howard (14.4 ppg) and Jonathan Rivera (10.0 ppg).

The good news is Cook and junior varsity coach Dick Simpson are rebuilding with many players from last winter’s 22-0 Northside Conference JV tournament championship team—the first unbeaten season in Carey cage history.

Cook said, "That’s one thing we’re trying to build on, the undefeated season. The kids have all played together. In fact they’re pretty even and we’ll have a few more substitutes. It won’t hurt us as much when we have to go to the bench."

Lacking height and rebounding might, Carey will try to do what the Panthers have done throughout the realm of 18th-year coach Cook. They’ll run and gun and press like crazy and use the entire floor.

"We’ll have some good speed. It’s a bright spot," said Cook. "We’ll try to do the fast breaking that we didn’t do last year and we’ll probably shoot more 3-pointers. I think we can run the floor real well.

"On defense we’ll also full-court press a lot and we’ll match up the best we can in the defense I prefer, man-to-man."

Still, Carey has a lot of points to make up. The Panthers averaged nearly 60 ppg last season. Free throw shooting was a big reason. Out of its structured offense Carey out-pointed opponents by 50 points at the free throw line.

"We had three people, Jonathan, Alex and Tony, who were real consistent in scoring points. They will be hard to replace," said Cook.

Indeed, Carey may be one year away. The 10-player varsity squad features eight juniors and only one senior and one sophomore. The juniors are good ones, but somebody will have to crash the boards.

John Saili, the only returning starter, provides Carey’s only rebounding power. But the 6-2 forward is lost to the team until Christmas-time because of a separated right elbow he hurt in the final football game.

The one senior is Dustin Olsen, a 6-1 forward who saw limited playing time last year.

Coach Cook is counting on offense from 5-9 junior guard Shawn Hennefer, 5-10 junior guard Destry Simpson and 6-1 junior forward Flint Dill.

Hennefer (16.7 ppg) was the go-to player on the unbeaten JV team and made the game-winning 15-footer in traffic in the championship game. Simpson (8.0 ppg) had 79 steals and led the way with 78 JV assists.

Providing a fast-break threat will be 5-7 junior guard Robbie Ellsworth. Vance Dill, a 6-0 sophomore guard, is a good outside shooter, the coach said.

The other juniors are 6-0 forward Stephen Jurgensmeier, 5-11 forward Sean Cenarrusa and 5-10 forward Kole Peck. Coach Cook said, "Kole is looking good in the high post."

Keeping the JV competitive will be players like soph Blake Surerus, the top rebounder and shot blocker on last year’s undefeated team, and soph point guard K.C. Rivera.

In the seven-team Northside league, defending champion Richfield (24-3) will likely be down after losing All-State guard Quinton Kent (17.0 ppg) and classy playmaker Rouven Wagner. They led the Tigers to a 49-8 record over two years.

Challenging last year’s Northside runner-up Carey for the top spot will be Shoshone with senior gunner Jackson Uhrig and Dietrich with the best all-around player in the loop, senior Chris Maughan.

Cook expects Castleford and Raft River to be the class of the Magic Valley/Southside Conference. Raft River will be tough despite the loss of 6-6 All-State player Jacob Nelson (24.0 ppg), who moved to Utah.

A big early-season test will be the Carey Holiday Tournament Dec. 7-8. Last year Oakley’s boys nipped Carey 57-55 for the varsity crown and Carey outran Murtaugh 61-39 for the junior varsity title.


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