No one doubts the ability of the mosquito to annoy, harass or make a person irritable in general. In some ways, the Carey girls' basketball team hopes to prove itself just as big a pest to its opponents.
"We are small but quick, and we play end to end," coach Lane Durtschi said. "We might do things other teams look down on, like pushing the ball and speeding things up. But I feel for us to be successful, we have to get teams out of their half-court game and push their guards to pass instead of dribble—be uncomfortable—and create turnovers off that."
Heading into his fourth season at the helm of the Panthers, Durtschi said defending state 1A Division II champion Richfield is still the team to beat in the Northside Conference. Durtschi added that he thinks any one of four teams could win the conference crown, including his own, which finished third at state in 2009 with a 15-10 record, Dietrich (second at state on 2009) and Camas County, which just captured the state title in volleyball.
"We still have not beaten Richfield and until someone in our conference does, they are No. 1," Durtschi said. "Dietrich has a lot of girls with eight or nine returning players, and Camas has turned the corner."
Carey graduated five seniors from last year's team and, like many small schools, finds itself in rebuilding mode.
"Extremely young, but full of potential," is what Durtschi said of his current crop of Panthers, and he has pinned the job of guiding the girls on the able backs of his two captains, seniors Amy Ellsworth and Jessica Parke.
The 5'-8" Ellsworth has the distinction of being the tallest player on the Panthers, but she stands out for other reasons as well.
"Amy is alert and awesome to teach and coach. You tell her something once, and she's got it," Durtschi said of his post player.
< Parke, a 5'-4", four-year starter at point guard, is "dominant, aggressive and not afraid of anything."
"She going to take it in and she doesn't care who is standing there," Durtschi said. "She is a good ball handler as well."
Parke, the team's high scorer with 11.3 ppg., garnered First Team All-Conference honors last season. Ellsworth (7.6 ppg.) was a Second Team designate.
Others keying in to the three-guard set are 5'-4" sophomore Nicky Gomez and 5'-6" freshman Jaide Parke. Playing post will be 5'-7" sophomore Micaela Adamson.
'These girls hustle and work really hard," Durtschi said. "They just need more experience and they will get there."
Experience is a key component to Carey's success, as Durtschi likes the players to react to what the opposing team's defense is giving them.
"We read what the defensive player does: Is she giving you a step? Then shoot. Do we need to attack? Pass? I expect them to read it and react accordingly. I put a lot of trust in them and they are free to react within the rules we have," Durtschi said.
The team (8-4 league) rang up 1,046 points on offense last season (45.5 ppg.) and conceded 838 (36.4 ppg.), with a high-point game of 60 and a low of 33.
Carey played Wood River and Hagerman in a jamboree in Hailey Tuesday, and while it is hard to gauge a team's season on one night, Durtschi saw at least one thing to hang his hat on.
"We got down 11-2 and we came back against a good team. That tells me this team has a lot of heart and is going to be pretty good," he said.
Senior Taylor Whitby is on the roster, but is nursing knee complications brought on by two ACL surgeries over the past two seasons.
"She could easily be our best player, but is going to be helping us coaches," Durtschi said.
The other seniors are 5'-6" post/guard Shurresa Rodriguez and 5'-6" post Candace Hennefer. Sophomore Darby Northcott will spend time on both varsity and jayvee. Angela Ellsworth is a freshman.
"I expect good things from all the girls," Durtschi said.
Ron Martinez will coach the junior varsity team, which includes sophomores Erica Zarate, Aimee Rodriguez and Charmaine Kirkland, and freshmen Morgan Parke, Jessica Richardson, Shay Stewart and Isabel Martinez.
The Panthers tip off the season at Oakley on Tuesday, Nov. 17. For a complete season schedule, please see the Nov. 11 edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, or go to our Website at www.mtexpress.com.