Carey survives Senecas scare


It’s not uncommon to hear a coach refer to his team’s play in such a manner following a game. However, it’s not usually used to describe a nine-point win.

But that’s the way C.J. Kin felt after his Carey Blue Devils, despite committing 24 turnovers, finished off a 71-62 victory over Calvert.

“It was an ugly game for us,” Kin said. “I thought we didn’t really cherish the ball very well tonight. We didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well especially late there in the third and early in the fourth quarter. We had the chance to put eight, ten more points up on layups; we didn’t do that. And I thought our defense was just terrible. You can’t give up 62 points to a team that averages 46 a night. There’s things we need to work on, but you come to Calvert and win, that’s great. It’s not an easy place to play.”

Carey (13-4, 7-1 Midland Athletic League) came out with its typical fast-paced style of play, lighting up the scoreboard early and often. However, Calvert matched Carey basket for basket, for the better part of the first half.

The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter. With Calvert holding a 12-10 lead, Carey’s Justin Meek knocked down a 3-pointer, then followed it up with a fastbreak layup to jump start a 12-2 Blue Devil run.

It looked as if Carey was ready to pull away, but Calvert’s Austin Ball had other ideas.

Ball beat the first quarter buzzer with a long 3-point shot that cut Carey’s lead to 22-17. That shot turned out to be the beginning of 11 straight Seneca points.

“When you’re a team that’s 3-14, you need all the help you can get emotionally. Mentally and emotionally,” Calvert coach Ted Willman said. “And that is a mental and emotional lift. Austin came out and had a great game tonight. Some of the other guys knocked shots down and we did a good job of taking what was open. But that series right there was just a big mental and emotional boost.”

Meek swung back the momentum to Carey side momentarily with a pair of 3-pointers, but an And-1 play from Jared Thompson put Calvert back in front 32-30.

It turned out to be the last time Calvert held the lead.

“I thought we did a good job, we knocked some shots down, we played with some energy,” Willman said. “Effort was good, we did a pretty good job on rebounds. And then the thing I thought we fixed over the last few games, kind of reared its ugly head again. And that’s turning the ball over. It was unforced turnovers.”

Calvert (3-15, 2-6) turned the ball over 26 times. One of the biggest occurred in the closing seconds of the first half.

Jared Wentling broke a 32-32 tie with a runner in the lane with 25 seconds to go in the half. Calvert brought the ball back upcourt with a chance to take the last shot, but a turnover turned into a Carey fastbreak and Matt Holsinger scored a putback basket to give the Blue Devils a 36-32 halftime lead.

“We needed that,” Kin said. “After we got eight or nine there towards the end of the first, Ball throws in a 3, and they get three turnovers to start the second. To come back, get back in the lead and get that four point cushion was a big boost for us.”

“That was big for us,” Meek said. “A little bit of a confidence booster right there to even just take a lead into half was good for us.”

Calvert kept the game close early in the third quarter, trailing by three at 44-41. But from there, Carey went on an 18-4 run stretching into the fourth quarter.

Meek said shot selection played a big factor in the Blue Devils being able to put some breathing room between them and the Senecas.

“Early in the first half we were settling for jumpers and 3-pointers,” he said. “We were taking it to the basket [later]. We were playing for each other, hitting each other for open layups. We were getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line off that.”

Meek and Wentling shared the team-high with 18 points. Meek keyed Carey early with 11 in the first half while Wentling put up 10 during the third quarter spurt.

“We’re lucky enough to have four kids that can score,” Kin said. “We never know which one of those four are going to score. Tonight Justin stepped up in the first half and I thought he was a good leader in the second half. He got some duck-in passes to Jared.”

After falling behind by 17, Calvert mounted a rally in the fourth quarter. Ball hit two more 3-pointers and scored nine of his 20 in the period. Calvert clawed to within seven with 2:50 to play, but couldn’t get any closer.

Willman said Carey’s run at the end of the third turned out to be too much to overcome.

“We just can’t go that long of period of time and not score,” he said. “Part of the problem is we didn’t score because we were turning the ball over. And we were turning the ball over because they were unforced, hurrying type of turnovers, and that’s when they got separation.

“In the course of that second half, you go back and look and you look at three, four missed layups. You look at missed foul shots. You add all those up an it’s a one possession game at the end of the game,” he said. “And those are huge when at times you struggle to score, you need to be able to make those layups and put those foul shots in.”