Carey clinches MAL?title
By Zach Baker
FREMONT – At halftime, with his team down 39-16, St. Joe coach Gary Geller approached one of Carey’s assistant coaches.
“I asked (him), ‘who in the hell did you lose to in the league?'” Geller said, after Carey’s 62-29 victory.
The assistant said New Riegel.
“And I said, ‘How? How?'” Geller said.
It was easy to see why Geller felt that way.
With the outright Midland Athletic League title on the line, Carey came out and dominated.
It led 18-3 after one quarter, 39-16 at the half and then shut out St. Joe, 11-0 in the third quarter.
Carey coach Phil Vaughn said after last week’s win over North Baltimore that his team couldn’t afford to take St. Joe lightly.
“The girls seemed to be pumped up,” Vaughn said. “When we got there to get on the bus, they seemed to be fired up with the chance to get the outright [title].”
Carey improved to 18-4, 9-1 in league play. It clinched its first outright MAL championship since 2009, the year the Blue Devils advanced to the state semifinals.
The Blue Devils spotted the Streaks a free throw before going before scoring 13 straight points at the start of the game.
As usual, Hannah Tong was right in the middle of things. The Carey senior scored seven points in the first quarter and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Blue Devils got contributions from up and down their roster. Sydney Wentling and Ali Rymer had eight points each, with Makenzie Wentling scoring seven points and Logan Johnson adding six rebounds.
Carey built its lead to 23-3 after a right wing trey from Sydney Wentling early in the second quarter. St. Joe tried to rally, but despite three consecutive jumpers from Cassidy Frank – two of them 3s – the Streaks could only climb to within 14 points before the Blue Devils took off again.
Frank did the majority of St. Joe’s (9-13, 2-8) scoring, putting up 20 of the team’s 29 points. She made four 3s.
Carey’s defense gave St. Joe problems all night, forcing 25 turnovers.
“We gave them what we thought was a good gameplan, and they just executed it,” Vaughn said. “They moved their feet. I just credit our team for having a lot of heart.
The Blue Devils paid special attention to the 3-point line. The Crimson Streaks made 6 of 18, but most of those came after Carey was way ahead.
“We knew (St. Joe) did a little pick-and-roll, and then try to get people free out here. So we were switching that outside pick-and-roll … we still lost them sometimes.”
Geller said Carey had the best defense St. Joe had gone up against all season.
“I told (Carey’s) girls afterwards, I congratulated them on winning the championship,” Geller said. “I said ‘Just keep it rolling,’ because they’re playing tough right now.”
It was Geller’s final home game after 32 years as St. Joe’s coach. He’s stepping down after the season.
“It’s emotional, a little bit,” Geller said. “But it’s not like the last tournament game that you lose, because now you’re thinking ‘I’m done, now.’ That one’s yet to come. Hopefully it’s three games away, four games away.”
Vaughn talked about Geller in his postgame interview.
“I’ve been a coach for quite a while, but just a varsity coach for five years,” Vaughn said. “Gary Geller’s been like a role model, a kind of mentor. I run into him at CYO games here, and I’ve watched his teams before I was a head coach, and he’s just a class act.”