Arcadia’s defense downs Carey

KANSAS As a 30-year man, Arcadia’s Randy Baker has been coaching the daughters of former players of his for a few years now.

Two current players, for instance, are daughters of players Baker led during the 1988-89 season, which was the last group of his to gain a spot in the regional tournament.

Until now, that is.

Saddled with one of their poorest shooting nights of the season, the Redskins kicked and scratched with an effective pressure defense to rally for a 36-33 win over Carey for the Division IV district championship at Lakota High School Saturday night.

The win was Arcadia’s 16th straight since a Dec. 29 loss to these same Blue Devils. The Redskins take a 22-3 record into Thursday night’s 6:15 p.m. regional semifinal against Pettisville at Elida High School

Pettisville advanced with a 41-39 win over Fayette in the Archbold District. Leipsic and Ottoville are the other two regional semifinalists.

Arcadia managed just 14-of-51 from the field one week after it had shot 54 percent in disposing of Calvert for its sectional title at Columbian. Even more alarming, the Redskins went 0-for-14 from 3-point range.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Baker said of the prospects of winning on that note. “We took 14 threes? Didn’t make any? Wow. I’d say we’d be going home now.

“But our defensive effort (was big) and we made the shots we had to make and made our foul shots down the stretch,” he said. “We had our money player at the line at the end. We put the ball in her hands and she came through big time.”

That would be senior Miranda Palmer, who tossed in 20 points to easily lead all scorers.

It was a Palmer jumper with 2:10 to go that gave Arcadia a 29-28 lead, its first such advantage since Molly Glick’s putback opened the game’s scoring. This time, the Redskins stayed on top.

Carey was unable to score and at the other end, Regina Fox scored on an inbounds pass. Nearly a minute later, the lead was 32-28 when Glick made one of two free throws with 36 seconds left.

“When it got under two minutes and the we got the lead, then it was time to start thinking about if you can get a stop and get the ball back, which we did,” Baker said. “Then you just have to make free throws.”

Ali Rymer got a quick basket for Carey, but the Blue Devils lost 14 seconds in chasing Palmer before fouling her with 14 seconds left. She hit both shots, but Carey’s 6-foot-1 post, Hannah Tong, canned a 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds showing.

“I’m just thinking, ‘Get it inbounds’ at that point,” Baker said. They did – to Palmer, who hit two more foul shots to seal it.

“My hat’s off, our hats are off to Arcadia. They are a solid basketball team.” Carey coach Phil Vaughn said after his Midland Athletic League champions finished 21-5.

Carey was limited to 14-of-42 shooting, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range. But the key number was 21 turnovers, nine of them in the third period when the Redskins found their identity, if not their offense.

“There were two pretty good defensive efforts out there,” Vaughn said. “It was a combination of not being able to get the offense going and we just sputtered a little against their press at times. We still felt like we got some good shots that didn’t fall, some close shots.”

Still, Carey edged ahead 17-11 at the half, mostly on the inside scoring of Tong, who finished with 10 points and rebounds and Logan Johnson, who totaled seven points and 10 boards.

Palmer scored six of her points in the final 3:06 of the third period to help the Redskins pull to within 25-21. Though progress was slow, they were making their move.

“We stepped up the pressure,” Baker said. “We had to pick up the pressure and get the game at our pace and we did that in the second half.”

Glick, who had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Palmer scored inside to tie it at 25-25 with 6:23 left before Sydney Wentling hit a 3-pointer for Carey’s final lead of the night. The Wentling hoop was Carey’s only score between a Johnson basket with 33 seconds left in the third period and the Rymer hoop with 29 ticks left.

Glick’s left-handed drive set up the Palmer heroics at the finish.

“Good teams aren’t going to quit,” Baker said of Carey. “And we’re not going to quit. It was a great ballgame – not if you want to see a lot of offense or anything – but the intensity and the back and forth, it was a great game.”