Carey picks up defense, tops St. Joe

KANSAS – Size won out over speed, but it took a while. A tightening of the defense didn’t hurt, either.

Carey clamped down against the 3-point shot more and more after the third quarter and took advantage of its inside size Thursday to power past Fremont St. Joe, 62-40 in a Division IV sectional semifinal at Lakota.

“They shoot a lot of 3s,” Carey coach Phil Vaughn said of St. Joe. “No. 20 (Cassidy Frank) shoots 50 percent this year from the 3-point line … .

“This team’s shot more 3s than any team I’ve ever coached,” he said of his own Blue Devils, “but they’ve shot 150 more than this team. We knew that going in, and we were just soft on their outside screens and giving them space. And losing No. 20 hurt us early.”

Frank netted all 12 of her points behind the 3-point arc for St. Joe (11-14), with her first two coming as part of her team’s 4-for-4 start out there in the opening period to help the Crimson Streaks keep pace.

Her third came at the 6:57 mark of the second period to put St. Joe up 17-16.

But Carey’s Hannah Draper turned a turnover into a three-point play 40 seconds later and the Blue Devils never trailed again, scoring another seven points that period off turnovers to enjoy a 31-24 halftime lead.

“We certainly accomplished what we were trying to do in the first half,” St. Joe coach Gary Geller said. “Missed a lot of easy shots; they missed more, but we missed a lot of easy shots that might have made a little bit of a difference.”

St. Joe went 6 for 11 on 3-pointers in the first half, but only tallied a respectable 3-for-8 showing there after that.

Better defense helped, Vaughn said, which meant going away from a full-court press and concentrating more on half-court pressure.

“We had a little bit of success with the press early. What ended up was, in the second quarter especially is, we lost some people getting back in transition,” he said. “We didn’t press at all in the second half, just simply to locate and stay with them.”

Meanwhile, Carey held a 38-28 rebounding advantage, with Logan Johnson grabbing 10 and Hannah Tong corralling nine to go with 13 points. Draper added six boards.

“When you’re jumping and all you’re seeing is elbows up there, you know it’s tough,” Geller said.

It all combined to help Carey outscore St. Joe 31-16 in the second half to lock up a title game Saturday at 7 p.m. with Arcadia, which beat Toledo Christian 57-39 in the first semifinal.

Draper added seven points, six assists and three steals, and Ali Rymer netted eight points for the Blue Devils, who got a game-high 21 points from freshman Sydney Wentling.

“She’s got an experienced cast around her and they help her, I think, mentally,” Vaughn said of Wentling. “We have a lot of juniors that played as sophomores, and Hannah Tong’s been playing varsity four years, and Sydney’s in a pretty experienced cast.”

Brennan Reardon backed Frank with eight points and Be Reardon scored seven. But the Crimson Streaks just couldn’t counter Carey’s advantages and atone for a 62-29 loss in the league finale, Geller said.

“We just can’t handle their depth with just seven kids, and obviously we have a tough time handling size when your big kid’s 5-foot-7-and-a-quarter,” he said. “But I think we certainly gave them a better game than the first time we played them.”