Carey pushes past Vanlue

CAREY – The time frame was 5 minutes, 57 seconds.

Or eternity, give or take a few seconds, if you’re Vanlue coach Dean Birchmeier.

It was a challenging climb for the Wildcats, who came all the way back from 12 points down late in the second quarter to draw even 39-39 with 2:22 left in the third period.

Then, nothing for 5 minutes, 57 seconds. That was the opening Carey needed and the Blue Devils responded with 12 straight points to pave the way to a 60-50 non-league win here Friday night.

Down 10 at 32-22 to start the second half, Vanlue outscored the Blue Devils 17-7 in the first 5:32 of the third period. Austin Smith’s 3-pointer, Vanlue’s third of the quarter and sixth of the game, was the tying goal at 39-39.

But then Carey’s Alex Distel zipped a pass to Evan Rymer for what became a three-point play at 1:49 to go. He fed Rymer for a jumper in the lane the next time down for a 44-39 edge at the quarter break.

Then it was Bryan Powers on a drive, Rymer for two off a Powers pass, and then Powers canned a long 3-pointer to make it 51-39 with 4:43 to play.

Vanlue didn’t get its next score until Jacob Coldren hit a short jumper with 4:25 to go, but by then it was too late. The Blue Devils were already in control.

“The longer you allow a team to hang around, the more they think they should win,” Carey coach C.J. Kin said after his club improved to 5-2 while dropping the Wildcats to 2-5. “That 5-0 run was big going into the fourth quarter for us and then to come out and get seven real quick, I think that really deflated them and it forced their hand a little bit.

“Once they caught us, it seemed like we flipped the switch a little bit,” he said. “We got a little bit more defense, got out and ran a little bit more, but still, I thought it was a lackadaisical effort tonight and that’s not something we can have every night if we want to win.”

Carey took its game inside to start. Jared Wentling, the game’s top scorer with 23 points, was dominant while hitting five of his first six shots in helping the Blue Devils to a 12-4 lead.

He had 14 points by the 6:14 mark of the second period and then Powers (13 points, five assists) hit a couple 3-pointers and Laine Wentling (10 points) added another in helping push the margin to 32-20.

Nick Hagerty and Austin Smith, who each finished with 16 points, led the Vanlue charge back into the game in the third period. Hagerty scored three inside baskets and nailed a 3-pointer in the surge.

“We look to him a lot and we were able to get him some decent looks,” Birchmeier said. “He was able to get it in around the bucket and he’s pretty good at finishing once he gets in there.

“We were right where we wanted to be,” he said. “We got a couple back door plays and got things going a little our way. But they tightened down on us and we weren’t able to get those same looks. We went a long time there without scoring.”

Rymer finished with 10 points to give Carey four players in double figures. The Blue Devils needed that kind of production to avoid an upset.

“I don’t think we came out with much intensity for the start of the game,” Kin said. “I was worried. I don’t think it helped that (Carey players) saw Lakota beat (Vanlue, 46-27) and we had just beat Lakota pretty bad (73-36).

“In high school basketball around here, if anyone hits a couple of 3s, it makes it a different ballgame,” he said. “I think somebody said (Vanlue) hit seven 3s and they hit some with hands in their faces.”

But for one 5-minute, 57-second time frame, the Wildcats hit nothing at all. And that’s what counted the most.