The Dietrich Blue Devils and defending champion Salmon River Savages from Riggins seem on a collision course for the 2014 State 1A Division 2 boys’ tournament basketball title this week at Ford Idaho Center Nampa.
They are the favorites in the eight-school 1A Division 2 tournament that begins Thursday, March 6 at Caldwell High School gym. Salmon River convincingly won its first state title last March 66-51 over defending champion Nezperce.
Carey High School, making its 18th state tournament visit in 22 years, is one of four schools returning from last year’s State 1A Division 2 tournament and the Panthers have drawn Salmon River (20-2) as their first-round opponent.
“Upsets happen on the first day at state and Salmon River could overlook us,” said 13th-year Carey head coach Dick Simpson (269-73), whose Panther teams achieved the state championship game three straight years from 2010-12, winning it all in 2011.
Carey plays Salmon River Thursday at 8 p.m. Last year the Savages jumped to a 32-15 halftime lead and defeated Carey 65-48 in the semi-finals of the state tournament. Simpson said, “Nothing is easy when you go to state. Salmon River graduated only one, and they’ve got a lot of height.”
Last Thursday, top-seeded Dietrich (20-3) captured its eighth straight victory and second consecutive Northside Conference tournament title with an 81-53 rout over Carey Thursday at Gooding High. Dietrich, averaging 66.1 ppg, averaged 84.3 ppg in winning all three of tournament games.
Dietrich (23-3) was last year’s consolation champion after an opening round 78-64 loss to third-place Kendrick.
This season Salmon River is averaging 64.7 ppg and allowing only 41.2 ppg. The Savages carry an eight-game win streak into the state tournament including a 52-40 victory over the tall Ambrose School Archers of Meridian (19-3) Thursday in the 3rd District title game at McCall.
Salmon River, the two-time defending State 1A Division 2 eight-man football champions led by “Player of the Year” Leighton Vander Esch, clashed with Dietrich in the season- opening hoops game Dec. 6 on the Dietrich floor, the Blue Devils taking away a 60-59 win.
Dietrich, having won the State 1A Division 2 Sportsmanship Award three times from 2009-12, debuts its quest for the Lincoln County school’s first state hoops title since 1966 with an opening-round game against Ambrose School Thursday at 3 p.m. in Caldwell.
Other first-round games are Rockland (14-8) vs. Summit Academy (15-6) at 1:15 p.m., and Kendrick (8-15) vs. Cascade (15-9) at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. With a loss to Salmon River, Carey would play the Kendrick-Cascade loser Friday at 8 p.m. at Caldwell High.
Coach Wayne Dill’s Blue Devils didn’t show many liabilities against coach Dick Simpson’s Panthers Thursday.
Owning the boards with a 46-29 advantage, Dietrich outscored Carey 42-25 in the middle quarters and boasted a 26-12 advantage in rebounding in those pivotal periods. Dietrich put four players in double figures—and also had four different players hitting 3-pointers.
Junior Trey Dill (23 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists) was unstoppable on both ends of the floor as the Blue Devils displayed speed, ball-hawking skills, rebounding and depth.
Carey was ice cold from the perimeter in the first half. But the Panthers still managed to cut Dietrich’s game-long lead to just three points, 26-23, when Chris Peck (6 points, 2 steals) cut to the basket and scored on a pass from Matt Whitworth (4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) at the 3:40 mark of the second quarter.
Yet Dietrich, leading 37-27 at half, asserted itself again with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and opened up a 29-point lead later in the period. Carey cut the lead to 19 points in the fourth quarter. That’s as close as the Panthers came.
Carey junior Nate Adamson (18.2) tallied 11 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. Two of Adamson’s three 3-pointers came in the final stanza. Chipping in was sophomore Collin Whitby (8 points, 2 steals).
Having a tougher time was Carey sophomore Joe Parke (15.7 ppg) in a classic match-up with Dietrich star Trey Dill. Parke (6 points, 9 rebounds) settled for a season-low scoring output. Other Panther contributors were Derrick Baird (3 points), Luis Garcia (2 steals) and Corban Johnson (2 points).
Carey had to bounce right back Friday in the Northside second-place game against No. 3-seeded Richfield (13-12), a miracle 47-46 winner over Castleford the previous night. It wasn’t easy, but Carey won its third game of the season over Richfield by a 55-38 score.
“It was hard coming off the emotional letdown of losing to Dietrich, because the kids wanted it so bad. It was a battle against Richfield,” said Simpson. “At halftime we were down by one, and that was only because Nate hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We scored some points off transition and had another 3-pointer by Nate at the end of the third quarter and finally built a lead.”
Adamson (18.1 ppg) finished with 16 points and five assists. He was 4-for-8 from 3-point land as Carey shot well from the field at 47%. Richfield had a tougher time from the perimeter, shooting 4-for-22 from 3-point range. The Panthers took care of the ball and committed 10 turnovers.
Other Panthers were Joe Parke (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots), Matt Whitworth (11 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals), Collin Whitby (8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Chris Peck (5 points, 4 boards, 5 assists), Toby Whitworth (2 points) and Luis Garcia (2 points).