By TED RADICK
CAREY — A handful of defensive breakdowns.
That’s what prevented Carey from completing a second-half comeback Friday in a 78-73 loss to Old Fort in a Midland Athletic League boys basketball game.
The Blue Devils were down by as many as 17 points early in the fourth quarter, yet rallied to make it a one-possession game in the closing seconds.
Still, Carey coach C.J. Kin bemoaned some free chances the Stockaders got in building a lead his team couldn’t quite overcome.
Carey held Cole Davidson, the MAL’s third-leading scorer at 18. points per game, to nine points. Those nine, though, came at costly times.
“We thought the person we could do the best on was Davidson. He’s the one we wanted to concentrate on,” Kin said. “We lost him three times in transition, and he hit three 3s.”
Still, the Blue Devils (13-6, 7-2 MAL) climbed back into the game against league leader Old Fort (18-1, 9-0 MAL, the No. 5 team in the Associated Press Division IV boys poll.
Bryan Powers hit a couple of 3-pointers and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. Zach Boes’ 3-pointer brought the Blue Devils within 73-70 with 30 seconds remaining.
“We let them hang around and make it intersting,” Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said. “We knew they weren’t going to quit. They’re a very good offensive team, and they got hot again there in the fourth quarter.
“They made a bunch of tough shots, and we didn’t do a good enough job of contesting them on defense, or moving our feet for that matter. They were getting about any shot they wanted.
“I thought we got outhustled. They got some offensive rebounds and some putbacks, too.”
Old Fort center Dalton Perry, who scored a team-high 23 points, restored some order for the Stockaders with a layup with 24 seconds left to put Old Fort back up by five points. But Carey’s Justin Meek, who also scored 23 points, slashed to the basket for a layup and a free throw.
Meek converted, bringing Carey within 75-73 of Old Fort with 13 seconds left. Perry found Brad Bannister with a long inbound pass, and Bannister hit a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Kin was disappointed that Bannister got behind the Carey defense.
“I know that last pass that Dalton threw up, if we’d have seen it sooner we could have chased it down,” he said.
Kin said the close finish may have ended in Carey’s favor had the Blue Devils played better earlier in the second half. Old Fort led 38-35 entering the third quarter, and then blitzed Carey.
“We had a bad third quarter,” Kin said. “We didn’t defend very well in the third quarter, we lost Davidson, and then offensively we got out of the offense a little bit.”
The Stockaders hit 7 of 8 shots to start the third quarter, largely as a result of going inside to Perry.
“It was one of the things we talked about coming into the game, and we didn’t do a lot of it the first half,” Hoover said. “The second half, we had to pound it in there.
“I felt like we could get Hunter (Perry) more open on the outside if we could get it inside first. Carey is a young team, and I don’t know if they really have a true post player. We were able to seal Dalton inside and get him some close looks at the basket.”
Hunter Perry, the outside portion of the Old Fort’s pair of brothers, knocked down two shots to start the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points. He hit 8 of 13 shots, many coming on mid-range jumpers from either elbow.
“We tried on Hunter to guard him at the 3-point line, but he’s just so damn quick,” Kin said. “He’s one of the few players we’ve seen this year that can pull up and hit a 15-, 16-foot jump shot consistently.”
Powers finished with 20 points for Carey with Boes and Jared Wentling each adding 12 points and seven rebounds.
Matt Hill had 15 points and Bannister 13 for Old Fort. Dalton Perry grabbed 12 rebounds as the Stockaders moved closer to an MAL championship.
“That’s what we want to do, is control our own destiny,” Hoover said. “That’s what I told the guys, we have two league championship games left. One to clinch a share, and one to try and win it outright. That’s what our focus is, one game at a time and that’s where we’re going to go from here.”
Old fort (18-1, 9-0 MAL)
D. Perry 10-1—23, H. Perry 8-2—18, Davidson 3-0—9, Bannister 4-4—13, Hill 6-3—15, Phillmore 0-0—0, Salas 0-0—0. TOTALS: 31-57 10-15—78.
Carey (13-6, 7-2 MAL)
Patton 0-0—0, Holsinger 0-0—0, Powers 8-0—20, Patrick 0-0—0, Boes 5-0—12, Blair 3-0—6, Wentling 6-0—12, Meek 7-7—23. TOTALS: 29-63 7-7—73.
Old Fort 22 16 23 17 — 78
Carey 18 17 13 25 — 73
3-Point GOALS: Old Fort 6-12 (Davidson 3, D. Perry 2, Bannister); Carey 8-20 (Powers 4, Boes & Meek 2).
rebounds: Old Fort 38 (D. Perry 12); Carey 27 (Boes & Wentling 7).
turnovers: Old Fort 12, Carey 10.
junior varsity: Carey, 51-37.