When you have a pair of 400-point season scorers like junior Nate Adamson and sophomore Joe Parke, you have a decent chance to win a state tournament basketball game.
Yet the Carey High School Panthers used a complete team effort to pull off two clutch victories during last weekend’s State 1A Division 2 tournament in Caldwell and capture the consolation trophy with a 62-55 upset win over Dietrich (21-5).
It didn’t hurt that Carey (16-11) upset Dietrich’s fast-paced rhythm to snap a two-season, four-game losing skid to Blue Devil teams—a streak during which Dietrich had trounced Carey by margins of 28, 23, 39 and 9 points.
Chief thorn in Dietrich’s side Saturday was Adamson (19.1 ppg). The speedy guard capped off a 78-point state tournament effort with a game-high 26 points in the trophy game.
Rebounding, team defense and smart tactics at the right times lifted Carey to its fifth state trophy in the six years that the Division 2 meet has been staged. Carey (26-16 in its last 12 state trips) also won state consolation titles in 1993 and 2009.
Carey’s 13th-year head coach Dick Simpson (271-74) said, “Our goal was to get to state, where it’s a new season. Once there, our goal was to play our best and get hardware.”
The Salmon River Savages (23-2) captured their second straight State 1A Division 2 championship 63-59 over Ambrose School Archers of Meridian (21-4). Third place went to Kendrick (10-16) 45-37 over Summit Academy (16-8), while Carey won its last two games for the consolation title.
Only Salmon River, led by its record-breaking 6-4 senior Leighton Vander Esch (93 points in 3 games) was able to beat Carey at state. The Savages won their final 11 games of the season including Thursday’s 65-45 romp over Carey.
All Vander Esch did in 93 of a possible 96 minutes of playing time over three games was score, in succession, 27, 29 and a classification record 37 points, with 35 rebounds and 32-of-51 shooting accuracy, with eight 3-pointers.
Exuding dominance at state, Vander Esch came up big in the finale by drilling five 3-pointers with his 37 points.
Carey’s path to a trophy was more methodical.
Against Salmon River, when the Savages outscored Carey 20-3 at the free throw line, the youthful Panthers hung tough with the eventual champs on the boards—particularly on the offensive boards—and limited their turnovers.
Simpson said, “Even in the Salmon River game, we got lots of good-look shots.” Top Panther producers were Adamson (20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), Parke (10 points, 7 boards) and freshman Derrick Baird (9 points).
“Players like Derrick, (freshman) Toby Whitworth and (sophomore) Collin Whitby stepped up at state,” Simpson said.
The opening-round loss gave Carey an assignment to stay alive Friday against Cascade and the Panthers did just that, surviving a close battle 59-55 with an 18-14 edge in the fourth.
Cascade (15-11) played a zone defense which Adamson penetrated effectively and went to the hole. Adamson (9 rebounds) finished with a personal state scoring record of 32 points on 8-for-20 shooting and, more importantly, a state single-game record of 14-for-17 free throw shooting.
For the game, Carey shot 22-for-30 at the stripe and outscored Cascade in that department 22-4. And, once again, the boards were important to the victory. Carey out-rebounded Cascade 34-29. Parke (15 points, 9 rebounds) was a big factor.
“We won the rebounding in both games against Cascade and Dietrich,” said Simpson. “I always tell the kids, if you rebound and play defense, you will win some games.”
Rebounding wasn’t a Carey asset when the Panthers lost 81-53 to Dietrich in the Northside Conference title game Feb. 27 at Gooding High School. The Blue Devils just buried Carey on the boards 46-29. But things were different Saturday.
Coach Simpson and his son, assistant coach Danny Simpson, devised a plan designed to throw Dietrich off its usual end-to-end transition offense.
“Dietrich is a good ball club. They feed off of frenzy,” said Simpson. “At district we did not rebound and we did not play defense against them. This time, I think we shell-shocked them a little.”
Carey unveiled a zone defense from the get-go, daring Dietrich to shoot and score from the perimeter.
“We haven’t played them in a zone for two years,” said Simpson. “They never got into a rhythm. They expected us to run with them, but sometimes we just walked the ball up the floor. We just stood outside there, running a lot of clock off.”
Trailing 18-13 after one, Carey owned the middle quarters—outscoring Dietrich 12-8 in the second quarter and 18-9 in the third. The teams played evenly in the final quarter.
Junior Chris Peck (10 points, 4 assists), not normally a 3-point threat, buried two critical 3-pointers in the second half and Collin Whitby (7 points) added one. “We didn’t shoot too badly from the outside (4-for-8 in 3s),” said Simpson. “Chris had two wide-open looks and made them both.”
From the field, Carey shot 52% after half, compared to Dietrich’s 33%. The Blue Devils were 7-for-21 from 3-point range and, most surprisingly, finished with only 31 rebounds to Carey’s 38. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in, even for good teams like Dietrich,” said Simpson.
Another factor was solid defense played by Parke on his counterpart Trey Dill, Dietrich’s star junior. Dill (11 points, 9 rebounds) had a sub-par game. Parke (11 points, 13 rebounds) played him to a standstill and Dill didn’t score in the third.
Meanwhile, Dietrich’s monster rebounder Austin Fenstermaker (4 rebounds) didn’t score at all.
“We kept him off the glass,” said Simpson about the junior. “Vance (senior Perron, 21 points) got away from us a little. But, you know, we’ve played Dietrich four times at state (since 2009) and they haven’t beat us yet.”
Adamson (26 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals) enjoyed another outstanding game against Dietrich, shooting 9-for-17 from the field. Carey shot 47% for the game, Dietrich 33%.
Simpson felt that the tournament was a great growing experience for Carey, which has only one senior. “We were in a lot of games this year,” said Simpson, whose team won five of seven games down the tournament homestretch.
Two other south-central Idaho 4th District teams won state titles to highlight other Idaho High School Activities Association state tournament action last weekend on courts in the Treasure Valley:
The Buhl Tribe (24-1) captured its first State 3A championship since 1979 and third overall 59-56 over Homedale (22-3). Buhl had to survive a harrowing 57-52 triple overtime first-round win over eventual consolation champion Sugar-Salem of Sugar City (18-8) to advance;
Twin Falls (22-4) earned its first State 4A title since 2010 and fourth overall—including a 5A state championship in 2006—with a 46-29 triumph over Century of Pocatello (16-11). Twin Falls escaped with a 58-50 overtime win over third-place Bonneville of Idaho Falls (22-3) to make the final game;
Capital High School of Boise (26-0) finished a rare undefeated season at the 5A level with a 63-53 title game victory over defending champion Borah of Boise (18-8) in Saturday’s final of six games at Nampa’s Ford Idaho Center. It was Capital’s first title since a four-year championship run for coach Charlie Henry from 1975-78;
Prairie (24-1) romped 78-43 over Challis (20-8) in the State 1A Division 1 final for Prairie’s first title since 2010 and third overall. Glenns Ferry (17-10) won the consolation trophy 40-37 over defending champion Butte County of Arco (23-3);
And Firth (22-4) earned its first State 2A championship after a four-year winning run from 2007-10 with a 58-48 triumph over Declo (20-6).
Here are final Carey stats.
Overall record: Carey 16-11 (6-4 home, 10-7 away, 7-1 league, second place), second place Northside Conference tournament, State 1A Div. 2 consolation champ. Offense: 1487 points (55.1 ppg). Defense: 1461 points (54.1 ppg). Individual scoring: Nate Adamson 440 points (19.1 ppg), 21 double-digit games, 78 points (26.0 ppg) at state; Joe Parke 407 (15.1 ppg), Matt Whitworth 276 (10.2), Collin Whitby 111 (4.1), Chris Peck 78 (2.9), Derrick Baird 51 (2.0), Luis Garcia 47 (1.7), Toby Whitworth 43 (1.6), Corban Johnson 15, Dallin Dilworth 10, Jesus Morales 5, Alex Durtschi 4.
Rebound leaders: Joe Parke 210 (7.8 per game), Nate Adamson 190 (8.3), Matt Whitworth 177 (8.3). Assists: Nate Adamson 150 (6.5 per game), Chris Peck 94 (3.5), Collin Whitby 43 (1.6). Steals: Nate Adamson 80, Luis Garcia 44, Joe Parke 42. Blocked shots: Joe Parke 51, Nate Adamson 15. 3-pointers (86-for-359, 24%): Nate Adamson 36, Matt Whitworth 13, Collin Whitby 9, Luis Garcia 9, Toby Whitworth 8. Free throws: Carey 253-431, 59%; opposition 313-555, 56%.