The game is on between the Carey Panthers and the top-ranked Dietrich Blue Devils.
Three-time defending Northside Conference boys’ basketball tournament champion Carey (14-8) has earned a berth in today’s Northside championship game opposite high-scoring Dietrich (21-2).
Senior guard Jordan Dilworth (five 3-pointers) scored a season-best 23 points and 6-2 freshman Joe Parke added a season-high 19 points with 8 rebounds as host Carey pulled away from Lighthouse Christian Academy 69-50 in Monday’s semi-final showdown.
Also Monday, Dietrich greased up its 72.3 ppg offensive attack and breezed to a 71-42 home win over No. 5 Castleford setting up tonight’s 7:30 p.m. championship game showdown at Gooding High. Dietrich has won the only meeting of the two schools, 90-51 over Carey on the Blue Devils floor Feb. 8.
The winner of Carey-Dietrich earns the district title and an automatic berth in the State 1A Division 2 meet Feb. 28 at Caldwell High School. Carey is seeking its 17th state tournament berth in the last 21 seasons. Dietrich is hoping to win its first Northside tournament championship since 1992.
Whichever team loses tonight will lace up its shoes again Thursday at 7 p.m. at Gooding High for the second-place game and the conference’s second state berth. A state play-in challenge Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. in American Falls awaits the loser of Thursday’s second-place game.
On Monday, Carey’s interior defense shut down the Lighthouse inside attack in the first quarter and forced the Lions (16-6) into perimeter shooting. That wasn’t much of a success for the No. 3 Lighthouse squad (22.5% field goal shooting, 3-for-18 from 3-point range).
“It helped quite a bit that Jordan was able to hit those 3-pointers for us early,” said Carey coach Dick Simpson. Indeed, Dilworth (7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) scored 18 of Carey’s first 23 points including all five of his 3-pointers. Helping Carey establish its lead was the play of Parke (8 rebounds, 2 steals, 7-for-8 line).
Still, Lighthouse’s 1-3-1 zone defense “gave us a lot of problems while we tried to dribble through it,” said Simpson, whose team committed 23 turnovers for the game. “We did much better passing the ball against the zone in the second half,” the coach added.
Carey’s 50-28 rebounding advantage (22-11 on the offensive glass) and crisp passing on offense helped the Panthers outscore Lighthouse 39-23 after halftime. The Panthers (35% field goal shooting) also made the most of their free throws, making 12-of-16, compared to the Lions’ 15-for-30 at the line.
Other Panther contributors: Nate Adamson (6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 8 assists); Sheldon Hansen (6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists); Matt Whitworth (12 points, 8 boards); Poncho Gamino (2 points, 5 rebounds); and Patrick Baird (1 point, 9 boards).
Topping Lighthouse were junior guard Jake Millenkamp (11 points, 7 rebounds), junior Erick Helman (11 points), senior Ridge Reid (9 points, 8 boards) and senior Eli Berndt (7 points, 3 steals, 2 assists).
Carey won its last three Northside titles over Dietrich 52-43 last year at Castleford, over Castleford 57-56 at Murtaugh in 2011, and over Murtaugh 70-49 at Dietrich in 2010. Richfield prevailed in 2009, capping a run of three Northside titles in five years.