NAMPA — The defending 1A Division II state champions were the title holders again on Saturday morning.
The Carey High School boys basketball team wasn’t able to pull off the upset against Genesis Prep, falling 59-33 Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center. And the game got away from the Panthers early on.
Both Carey head coach Dick Simpson and guard Hayden Wayment said they’d have to hit a few 3-pointers to keep themselves in the game, but that wasn’t the way it started. In the first half, the Panthers went 1-for-8 from 3-point range.
However, after going down 16-2 to in the first quarter, Carey started to find the net, and head coach Dick Simpson said his team looked more free in the second quarter.
“We told them to shoot the ball,” he said. “You can’t be catch-and-thinkers, you’ve got to be catch-and-shooters.”
But the chances to pull up weren’t were scarce. Genesis Prep’s defense played tight to the ball as it did against in Friday’s semifinal win over Dietrich, swatting balls before they could be shot. Plus, the Jaguars only allowed six offensive rebounds and five second-chance points.
“It’s hard to out-rebound them,” Simpson said. “They are a big club.”
Size was hardly the determining factor, though, with a heavy outside shooting presence by Genesis Prep. Jonny Hillman had another championship-caliber performance for the Jaguars, posting a game-high 21 points through speed and jumpers.
“They’ve got kids that can reel them,” Simpson said of the Jaguars. “It’s hard to double down when you’ve got that kind of presence on the outside. I’ve had that a couple different times over the years. It makes a big difference.”
Simpson also said that the things Genesis Prep did to set up shots — dribbling, ball movement, cuts — were done consistently throughout the game, and he had to rethink his defense in the process.
“We played zone,” he said. “Maybe we should have played man from the get-go. They got things in on us, but I thought the kids bodied them pretty hard.”
None of the Panthers hit the double-digit point threshold. Kaden Koudelka led Carey with nine points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Houston Hennefer nailed a couple 3-pointers and finished six points and five rebounds.
Those two are part of a collection of six seniors that have carried this team throughout the season. Simpson said that leadership showed in the way that the Panthers (21-6) never let a lead or a sure loss stop them from playing hard every minute.
“What I like about these guys is, we lost four games this regular season, and we could have won all four of them,” he said. “So they never gave up, and they always worked hard. That can take you a long ways.”
It’s a fair likelihood that Carey will be back for another state tournament run. The Panthers own the longest playoff appearance streak in Idaho boys basketball at 13 years, and have been to the tournament 15 of the 16 years that Simpson has been in charge.
Genesis Prep 59, Carey 33
Carey 2 14 5 12 — 33
Genesis Prep 16 17 11 15 — 59
CAREY (33) — Carson Simpson 2, Houston Hennefer 6, D.J. Parke 4, Kaden Koudelka 9, Tanner Mecham 2, Hayden Wayment 3, Brigham Parke 4, Max Dilworth 3.
GENESIS PREP (59) — Jake Shelton 8, Smith Mwinuka 5, Max Reidt 2, Junior Williams 8, Jacob Schroeder 3, Jonny Hillman 21, Jacob Schultz 2, Kon Ajang 8, Luke Gonzales 2.