By Tony Maluso
Carey’s Logan Johnson works her way toward the basket against Calvert’s Samantha Beckley Thursday in Tiffin.
As the clock ticked toward the one minute mark in overtime and the game still tied, Carey's Makenzie Wentling found the ball in her hands with a good look at the basket.
So far on the night, she had only three points, all coming at the foul line. She also admitted after the game she was struggling with her shot.
But none of that stopped her from knocking down what became the game-winner.
"I wasn't too sure about taking the shot because mine haven't been going in too well this season," she said. "But coach preached confidence. Your teammates depend on you, so I know I had to do that. Then we just played as a team and made sure we got the win.
Her jumper broke a 50-50 tie with 1:06 to play. After a Calvert offensive foul, Wentling added a foul shot.
Calvert had a chance to tie, but a 3-pointer was off the mark. Carey's Hannah Draper pulled down the rebound, added two foul shots at the other end and Carey left town with its perfect Midland Athletic League record intact after a 55-50 win over the Senecas.
Carey never trailed, but after building a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Blue Devils saw the lead slowly get whittled away.
"Coming over here is a tough place to play, a little smaller court," Carey coach Phil Vaughn said. "I thought our kids came out the beginning of the game and played a really good, solid first quarter. I think what hurt us was we got up and weren't able to extend; we needed to extend. We knew If we stopped scoring, they weren't going to stop scoring. (Kate) Brickner's sitting there with a 18-point-a-game average. I really like how we defended her even though she still had a lot of points. I felt like she really had to work for them."
The teams went to halftime with Carey up 29-18. Logan Johnson was having her way inside with 13 points at the break and Brickner was held scoreless. Things started to turn in the third quarter. Brickner finally got in the scorebook and Nicole Bickley scored nine in the period as Carey's edge was brought down to seven, 43-36, heading into the fourth.
That's where Brickner took over.
"She stepped up big," Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said of his senior. "When Taylor (Ritzler) went down with an injury, we relied on Kate to play point most of the second half, which she hasn't done much this year, and I thought she did a great job of it, stepping up and making plays, finding a way to get her shot. In the first half she was patient. She wasn't trying to force anything. In the second half she had to step up and make plays and I think she did a good job of it."
Brickner scored her team's first seven in the quarter with only a Sydney Wentling foul shot interrupting the stretch for Carey, bringing Calvert within one with 3:24 left.
"I think it was just one play at a time," Ritzler said of the key to the fourth quarter. "Get a good offensive possession, get a good shot and we did that. Then we went down the defensive end made them take one contested shot and rebound the ball well."
Carey shot 4 for 11 from the foul line in the fourth to keep Calvert alive, and a Brickner jumper with 32 seconds left tied the game for the first time since it was 2-2.
Carey had two chances to win in the final 30 seconds, but couldn't get one to fall.
"Fortunately we've been in a couple overtime games this year and I think both times the other team had momentum going into the overtime much like tonight; Calvert had the momentum," Vaughn said. "We just felt like we wanted to be patient in the overtime in our offense. Makenize got the 4- or 5-footer, but I felt like we were making good passes and being efficient in the offense in the overtime. I don't think both teams had a lot of possessions in the overtime 'cause I felt like we held the ball a minute and a half in a couple possessions there."
"We knew that we needed to have patient on offense to get the ball to the hole, and just play solid defense without fouling," Wentling added.
Earlier in the game, Carey built its lead in part thanks to Johnson, who stepped up with the team struggling to hit its outside shots.
"I just got the confidence to start shooting and they went it," Johnson, who scored a game-high 21 points.
According to Vaughn, there was something else that got Carey going.
"The other thing that's not going to show up in the stats is when Gwen Wentling and Shelby Kin came in the game; rotated in the first quarter, our press got going a bit," he said. "Gwen got some steals and Shelby got some deflections, some layups. I think Logan on the offensive end, and Gwen and Shelby coming in off the bench sparked us defensively."
Carey got three fast break layups directly off steals to key an 11-0 run in the first quarter that built the lead.
Brickner led Calvert with 17 on the night. Bickley added 16 and nine rebounds battling inside against Johnson and Ali Rymer.
"Nicole's got the size advantage on them, but those Carey girls, they're tough," Ritzler said. "They're physical, they play hard, they work as hard as they possibly can and get the most of the size and strength that they have. It was a good test for Nicole, and I was proud to see her battling and have a pretty good night tonight."
Carey improves to 14-1, 6-0 MAL. Calvert drops to 10-4, 3-2.