By Tony Maluso
Carey’s Sydney?Wentling shoots over New Riegel’s Morgan Noftz during Thursday’s game in?New Riegel.
NEW RIEGEL - You can step up the defense, you can give yourself chances, but to complete a comeback you have to do one main thing: make shots.
Whether it was a cold night, Carey's defense, or as New Riegel coach Steve Lucius said, "Both," the shots weren't falling for the host Blue Jackets.
As a result, a second-quarter spurt that pushed Carey into the lead was enough to bring home a win over New Riegel 46-37 in an early season battle of Midland Athletic League powers.
Both teams came into the game with perfect records. Carey coach Phil Vaughn said he was proud of the way his team rose to the challenge on the road.
"I think they did exactly that," Vaughn said. "I'm proud of the way we started out. An important part of the team gets two fouls; Ali (Rymer) gets two fouls. Shelby (Kin) goes in and plays really good in her spot. Shelby gets two fouls. Logan (Johnson) gets two fouls. That's adversity. We battled through it. And I'm proud of them for that."
Carey pushed ahead by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and led by eight going into the fourth. Even though New Riegel got within four, a 1-for-11 performance from the field in the final period prevented the comeback from being completed.
"Credit to their defense. Our shooting's not real solid. You got to put the ball in the basket," Lucius said. "We made a nice comeback. We're playing hard defensively for a while there, We're just trading possessions. Nobody's really scoring and I thought that was kind of a key moment when we had chances to cut into that lead in the third quarter a little bit sooner, but we didn't do it, then we really had to scramble the fourth quarter. And again, to our credit, we came back, got it down to four and called timeout to make sure we got a good shot, and I think we probably turned it over or something. I think the next two possessions."
Taylor Arbogast led New Riegel with 13 points, and scored all eight of her team's points in the fourth quarter, but a shot from Carey's Hannah Draper with two minutes to go gave the Blue Devils some insurance. Defense and foul shooting sealed the deal from there.
"We stress defense," Vaughn said. "People were probably shocked seeing what I call a junk defense, a zone. We felt like we wanted to change things up on them. It worked, I think, so they couldn't settle in so easily all the time."
"Our defense is our main focus of the game, because it leads to our offense," Carey's Sydney Wentling added. "And, we just kept switching it up on them so they couldn't get comfortable, from zone to man."
Wentling also was the fire starter for the Carey offense in the second quarter.
New Riegel held a 10-7 lead after one, but the Blue Devils scored the first 11 of the second to grab a lead they never relinquished.
"I think we finally started, just started, playing more of our game," Wentling said. "They've always tried slowing us down which they did a little bit at the beginning. We started speeding it up a little bit and got open looks."
"She's been hitting some big shots for us," Vaughn said of his sophomore. "We were fortunate to find her in a position where she could get shots off. ... she can get her feet set and get a good look. It took good ball movement to get her the ball. I'm grateful the team found her when they had to."
Wentling scored 10 of her game-high 18 in the second. Vaughn said that was key due to his post players getting in foul trouble, and the potential New Riegel's Lauren Ladd and Taylor Kirian had to take over the game.
"That was necessary, especially with the foul trouble starting with Ali going out of the game early, with Logan and Shelby Kin both getting two fouls. All three of our posts had two fouls," Vaughn said. "If we don't make that run and we let them dictate, if Ladd and Kirian take over in that quarter, it's a whole different story. We weathered that storm and got that run. That was important."
Instead, New Riegel went through another cold stretch and couldn't recover.
"We got to rushing things a little bit offensively," Lucius said. "We didn't get some quality shots there for several possessions, or turned it over a few times rather than being patient, executing, getting the ball inside like we were hoping to do. Then I thought (Wentling) got hot; lost her a couple times and she makes you pay."