Rooting for the Carey High School girls’ basketball team hasn’t been for the faint-hearted the last couple of years. That was certainly the case last weekend in Nampa at the State 1A Division 2 tournament.
Carey (17-7) played three games at state and all three could have gone either way. As first-year head coach Merrilee Sears told her Panthers Saturday in the fourth quarter of their 44-43 victory over the Tri-Valley Titans, “This game boils down to who wants it more.”
And Carey wanted it, getting a clutch free throw from freshman Medin Cenarrusa with two seconds left to claim the state consolation trophy—the Panther program’s fourth state trophy in five years.
“Our girls fought hard and played hard,” said Sears, whose team won 11 of its final 12 games this season, much like last year’s streak of 12 wins in the final 16 games that ended with the third-place trophy.
She added about her Northside Conference champions, “I told them, only three teams in the whole state get to walk away with a win to finish their season, and we did just that.”
Putting Carey on her back and leading the Panthers to the fourth-place prize was senior guard Jaide Parke. She emerged as the leading scorer of all players in all six divisions at the Idaho High School Activities Association tournaments in the Treasure Valley.
A little disappointed with her 20-point, 17-rebound performance in Thursday’s 39-35 overtime loss to eventual state runner-up Kendrick, Parke came out and equaled her career-best with 32 points and 6 boards in Friday’s 60-52 win-or-go-home success over Deary.
“Jaide puts a lot of pressure on herself and didn’t feel she played her best game against Kendrick,” said Sears, herself an All-State guard for an American Falls state championship team in 2000. “Against Deary she just wanted it and went out and made it happen.”
Parke played every minute against Deary and shot 8-for-16 from the field (3-for-7 3-pointers) plus 13-for-15 from the line. “Not many teams have man-to-manned us this season, but Deary did and really shadowed Jaide. Her teammates set screens for her and she got herself open,” said Sears.
Carey’s stingy 34.7 ppg defense limited Deary (12-8 record) to 33% shooting, after holding Kendrick to 19% shooting Thursday. Nevertheless the Panthers, leading 41-40 entering the final period, needed to outscore Deary 18-12 in the final period to stay alive.
A cool customer for a ninth grader, Cenarrusa scored 7 points with 5 rebounds against Deary and junior guard Lilly Rivera, so tough on defense, added 9 points in the victory.
Having played two 8 p.m. games at state, Carey had to turn around and tip off against Tri-Valley (17-5) Saturday at 9:15 a.m. at Nampa High. “It was an early morning game and it seemed like no one had any legs left,” said coach Sears.
Carey shot only 24% and Tri-Valley got 18 of its 43 points off of Panther turnovers. Yet Parke was amazing again with 26 points and 7 rebounds—and she got lots of help from senior Morgan Parke (10 points, 8 rebounds) and senior Angelica Zarate (2 points, 6 rebounds).
The Panthers didn’t lead until late in the fourth period when Zarate’s basket gave Carey a 38-36 lead. Finally, Cenarrusa’s defense thwarted the scoring of Tri-Valley 5-9 junior guard Victoria Branch (22 points, 11 boards, 4 steals) and Carey gained possession with 24 seconds left in a 43-43 tie.
Sears said, “That girl (Branch) had been killing us. We got the ball and set up a play that broke down. Medin drove to the basket and was fouled. We had a lane violation on her first free throw, then Medin made her second shot to put us ahead for good.”
The outcome meant that, over two years, Carey had won four of its last five games at state—two going into overtime, one settled by a single point, one a four-point win over Mackay in 2012, and Friday’s win over Deary that was virtually tied going into the fourth.
Parke’s scoring was the constant in all of them. Carey’s all-time leading career scorer (1,255 points in 4 years) pumped home 25, 28, 20, 32 and 26 points with a total 16 3-pointers in her final five state games over two years. And she put her name in the state record book Saturday.
Her 78 points (26.0 ppg) at state broke the class records of Richfield’s Teenie Kent (76 points, 25.3 ppg) set three years ago. Her 27-of-33 free throw shooting (82%) was another record. Her 13 free throws against Deary tied Savannah Prigge’s record from last year.
Parke ended up shooting 22-of-61 (36%) including 7-for-18 from 3-point range (39%) with 30 rebounds (10 per game). In three games at state last year, she scored 61 points (20.3 ppg).
It was Carey’s eighth trip to the state tournament. The Panthers were also the consolation champions in 1996, then captured third places in 2009 and 2012, and second in 2011.
Shooting 38% from the floor and making 15 steals using their pressure defense, the Dietrich Blue Devils (26-1) won their third straight 1A Division 2 championship 52-28 over Kendrick (16-11) in Saturday’s title game. Dietrich’s closest game was a 47-42 semi-final win over third-place Mackay (16-7).
Seniors Charley Bingham (17 points, 4 steals) and Cheyenne Hubert (11 points, 9 rebounds) guided Dietrich and its six seniors to a rare three-peat for coach Acey Shaw. Sophomore Jacey Shaw had 22 points in the Devils win over Mackay.
The Northside Conference has now produced all five champions—Dietrich from 2011-13 and Richfield in 2009-10—since the Idaho High School Activities Association moved from a 16-team 1A Division state tourney to separate eight-team 1A Division 2 and 1A Division 2 meets after 2008.
In other state results:
Bishop Kelly of Boise (19-7) won its first State 4A title 50-40 over Century of Pocatello (17-8) after Twin Falls knocked off three-time champion Middleton (25-1) in the first round; and Post Falls (24-1) won its first State 5A crown in 10 years 46-44 (OT) over Coeur d’Alene (21-6);
Also winning first state titles were North Fremont of Ashton (19-10) 45-40 over Soda Springs (23-3) in 2A; Snake River of Moreland (23-2) 51-34 over Filer (21-5) in 3A; and Kamiah (21-5) by a 60-29 rout over Lapwai (21-5) in 1A Division 2.
Carey’s final stats:
Overall record: Carey 17-7 (8-4 home, 9-3 away). Offense: 1043 points (43.5 ppg). Defense: 833 points (34.7 ppg). Individual scoring: Jaide Parke 412 points (17.2 ppg), 23 double figures in 24 games, 26.0 ppg state, new Carey career scoring leader with 1,255 points in 4 years; Morgan Parke 255 points (10.6 ppg); Lilly Rivera 130 (5.4); Medin Cenarrusa 113 (4.7); Angelica Zarate 48 (2.0); Ashley Durtschi 36; Kylie Castle 14; Natalie Villanueva 13; Paige Koudelka 12; Daphne Kirkland 10. 3-pointers (62): Jaide Parke 32, Rivera 15, Cenarrusa 11, Zarate 1, Durtschi 1, Kirkland 1, Villanueva 1. Free throws: Carey, 169-278, 61%; opposition 168-333, 51%.