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Carey defense locks down Western Reserve in second half

BASCOM — Western Reserve scored 11 points in less than 2 1/2 minutes early in the first quarter and put up another 11 over the final three minutes of the period.

And they still trailed Carey in a Division III sectional final at Hopewell-Loudon here Friday night.

When the Roughriders managed just 11 points the entire second half, they hit the trail for good.

Carey locked down big time at the defensive end and did more than enough good things on the offensive side to post a 66-46 win. The Blue Devils gained their first sectional title in four years and improved to 18-6 while knocking Western Reserve out at 15-7.

Next up for Carey is a district semifinal test with Oak Harbor (19-4) at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Norwalk High School.

Blue Devil coach Jamie Young knows good defense when he sees it, but even he was amazed at the efficiency his club put forth in the second half.

“Eleven points? That’s it? The Carey kids played with grit. That’s what it was,” Young said. “We dug down and we just got after it at both ends.

“They have very capable shooters and we had to make sure we weren’t giving up open shots,” he said. “We did a great job of helping out each other and we had a big night from Casey Crawford and other guys off the bench.”

After watching the Roughriders hit 14 of 26 from the field in the first half, the Blue Devils limited them to 5 of 24, including 1 of 15 from 3-point range, the rest of the night.

It looked like a shootout to start. Each team hit 9 of 13 in the first quarter, which ended with Carey owning a 24-22 lead. The Blue Devils hit five 3-pointers in the quarter, three by senior Cody Luzader, who was scoreless in Wednesday’s first-round 64-41 romp over Wynford.

By halftime, the margin was still two at 37-35. Luzader had 11 points, including three 3-pointers, Griffin Summit had 10 and 6-foot-7 sophomore Hayden Stone had eight points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Gavin Braden and freshman Luke Rowlinson came off the bench to score 12 and six, respectively, and starter Aiden Markley had eight to keep Western Reserve in the hunt.

“It was nice to see the ball go through the net but I attribute that to my teammates,” said Luzader, who finished with 14 points. “Griffin Summit stepped up huge the last game and Trey Bame and Hayden Stone, they all stepped up.

“That allowed for them to not just key on me; they had to play everybody,” he said. “That really helped me out and got my confidence back up.”

Although the Roughriders managed just five points in the third period, they pulled to within two one last time when Pierce Livermore hit a 3-pointer to make it 42-40 with 3:06 left.

But Stone, who finished with game highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds, scored on a putback and Crawford put up two quick buckets, one on a pass from Bame and one in transition, for a 48-40 Carey lead.

Crawford’s final basket, a 3-pointer for a 53-42 lead with 5:11 to play, was as good as a clincher to Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon.

“I know he’s not in their top five of 3-point percentage shooters,” Sheldon said. “But he buried a big 3 to put them up 11 and at that point, they obviously were playing with a ton of momentum.

“It’s the fourth quarter and I felt like our kids, for the first time in a while, were questioning and doubting their abilities a little bit,” he said. “In the game of high school basketball, it’s a do-or-die situation and momentum and confidence are huge, huge separators.”

Bame had two more assists to Brayden Wentling and Stone, and Summit (15 points) scored on a drive to seal the win. Carey hit 23 of 39 overall and 9 of 20 from 3-point in gaining the win.

“We shot the ball better than we’ve shot in a long time,” Young said. “Cody came out and was hot early and it just kind of trickled over. We had Stone on the inside and Griffin was doing what Griffin can do.”

Braden had 14 points and Markley 12 to pace the Roughriders. But standout guards Braden Hood and Dale Smith were limited to seven and two, respectively.

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