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The Carey High School boys varsity basketball team will have a quick turnaround of players that are still taking off their football pads, but the season will be around the corner regardless.

Head coach Dick Simpson believes his players will be ready for the 2021-22 season when the Carey Panthers welcome the Butte Pirates for the season opener on Nov. 30.

For the fifth year in a row, Carey will be going from football to basketball in a matter of days with Carey having played in its opening jamboree on Monday night only days after the football team played in the state championship.

“When they switch sports, they switch gears,” Simpson said. “Change is as good as rest sometimes, but they’ll pick it up fast.”

In his 18th year at the helm of the Panthers, Simpson isn’t afraid of his players switching between sports so quickly. In many ways, he believes the success of previous seasons has helped Carey athletes in the long run.

Simpson will welcome nine players on varsity with eight on junior varsity. Many of the same players are returning from a year ago when the Panthers went 13-8 (4-3 Sawtooth Conference) and earned an Idaho High School Activities Association 1AD2 State Tournament appearance.

The success of Carey is evident with the tradition. Since 1990, when Simpson was the junior varsity coach, Carey has missed the state tournament only four times.

“These kids have a winning mentality; they’ve been successful,” Simpson said.

Coming back will be a group of juniors that will be looking to keep a rich tradition. Juniors Connor Simpson, Franco Ocampo, Colton Larna and Riley Morey will lead Carey.

Joining the junior squad is newcomer Carsn Perkes, who finished the football year as quarterback. Perkes’ unique set of skills will allow Carey to use him inside and outside.

“I’d rather play with him than against him,” Simpson said of Perkes.

Joining that core of players are seniors Chase Bennion and Ivan Corrillo.

Simpson believes his team will adjust accordingly and finish the year off just like the Panthers did a year ago when they won the Sawtooth Conference Tournament.

“It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish,” Simpson said. “I’m sure it’ll take them a little while to get going, but I’m confident they’ll get some wins.”

The Nov. 30 home opener for the boys will also serve as a double-dip with the girls team, as Carey welcomes the Butte boys and girls. The girls game begins at 6 p.m. with the boys scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m.

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