Playing in yet another loser-out game, the Carey High School boys’ basketball team stayed resilient in hostile territory as the No. 5 Panthers defeated the No. 3 Camas County Mushers 61-47 Wednesday night in Fairfield in the 1AD2 Sawtooth Conference tournament.
Senior Dallin Parke led the Panthers with 21 points while going 7-for-17 from the field.
Parke also went 2-for-4 (50%) from the three-point line and 5-for-7 (71%) from the free throw line while adding four assists and three rebounds.
The Panthers (12-7) also had some surprise help from sophomore Conner Simpson, who finished the night with 17 points and four rebounds. Simpson also went 7-for-8 from the free throw line and 2-for-3 from the three-point line.
Carey led the Mushers (13-8) at halftime, 32-25. The Mushers went on a run and outscored the Panthers in the third quarter, 15-12. However, Carey returned in the fourth quarter to pull away and outscored Camas County, 17-7, in the final frame of Wednesday night’s game.
Junior Dawson Kramer led the Mushers with 18 points and 10 rebounds, junior Breken Clarke had 15 and freshman Emmett Palan scored nine while grabbing 10 rebounds.
Carey senior Hunter Smith was relatively quiet with only six points, but he did have three assists and three rebounds.
Rounding out Carey was senior Wyatt Mecham (10 rebounds), junior Chase Bennion (seven points, five rebounds) and senior Ashton Sparrow (eight points, three rebounds).
Carey has hit a groove as the Panthers have now won six of their last seven games.
The Panthers will play at No. 2 Richfield at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday for second place. (The game took place after press time.)
Richfield lost to the top-seeded Dietrich Blue Devils, 80-59. With the win, Dietrich punched its ticket to state.
The last time Carey and Richfield played, Carey won at Richfield, 79-66, on Jan. 21.
If the Panthers win, they clinch a 16th consecutive state tournament trip for the school and will play at noon on Wednesday, March 3, versus returning champion Garden Valley (21-1).
Garden Valley have won 16 straight games, including the Long Pin Championship game, 92-49, over last year’s state runner-up Cascade.
If Carey loses at Richfield, they have one more chance at state at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Jerome High School in a state play-in game versus the winner of Thursday’s Cascade-Council second-place game.
Wednesday night’s victory was head coach Dick Simpson’s 389th career victory. In his 20th season, Simpson has totaled a record of 389-136.
Thursday night’s game will be livestreamed on the NFHS Network. For the results, check www.mtexpress.com.