Kelly Walsh didn’t need junior Corin Carruth to play 32 minutes Friday night. The Trojans’ post had already subbed out multiple times when teammate Isabel Lyons sent a lob over the reach of Cody standout Paige Powell and into the block with under 3 minutes remaining. Carruth hauled in the pass and scored an old-fashioned 3-pointer as Powell’s attempted block struck the junior’s arm.
Carruth converted the ensuing free throw, stretching the Kelly Walsh lead to 13 points. That’s all that was needed on a night when the Trojans’ defense pivoted to dominance.
Kelly Walsh held Powell, the University of Wyoming signee, scoreless in the second half and allowed just four total points in the final 16 minutes to cruise past the Fillies in a 32-18 win.
Less than a month ago the two sides played to a unique 26-23 contest in Cody. That too was a defensive struggle, highlighted by the 32-minute battle in the post between Powell and Carruth. Powell once again gained control early in the rematch, securing six rebounds in the first quarter as the Fillies gained a quick lead. Powell finished with 11 points and 19 rebounds in the earlier meeting.
“We had this nemesis in our brain of who she was and what she did,” Kelly Walsh head coach Sara Tuomi said. “I told them to clear it, get rid of it. And I think they responded very well.”
Juniors Rachel Schmucker and Jayla Johnson subbed in for Carruth in attempt to contain Powell in the first half. Johnson was caught in the high post while Schmucker stayed on the block. Both matched muscle with Powell, providing a different match-up. And while Powell’s athleticism still led to points, the reserves provided valuable uplift.
“Rachel, I thought, did a great job of containing Paige and had some huge rebounds, box-outs on Paige to keep her off the boards,” Tuomi said. “I thought she dominated her role very well. And Jayla coming in giving Hadley (Lloyd) some minutes, too, were huge.”
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Powell, the conduit to Cody’s offense, once again helped spark the offense. She typically received the ball in the block, drawing a quadruple team from the Kelly Walsh defense. The senior, still tall enough to see over the collapse, kicked out to an open teammate, who often struggled to make the shot. After all, only sophomore Torrie Schutzman (at 12.9 points per game) averages over 5.6 per contest. When Schutzman didn’t stay in position for her preferred corner 3 the Fillies’ offense couldn’t operate with confidence outside of Powell running in transition. The 18 points was a season-low for the Fillies (8-8, 1-4 4A Northwest).
A redefined defensive edge followed the Trojans out of the break and onto the court for the second half. With the return of senior point guard Kylie Spangler, the Trojans viciously overwhelmed Cody’s inexperienced guards. The Fillies’ only points in the third quarter came with 89 seconds remaining and he gap at that point proved too much for Cody’s sputtering offense as Carruth started to catch fire.
The junior had all five of her points and all six of her rebounds in the second half for the Trojans (13-4, 5-0 NW). During that same stretch she held Powell scoreless and to only three rebounds. Powell finished with just six points and 14 rebounds.
“I felt a lot more comfortable in the second half,” Carruth said. “Definitely got things going.”
Junior Danilynn Schell hit four 3-pointers for the Trojans on Friday, including a pair in the third quarter that helped extend the lead. She finished with a game-high 16 points.
In a fitting end, Carruth posted up on Powell on the game’s final possession. Lyons found Carruth, who saddled Powell to the hip, and won the battle to the baseline. Her layup went in but was ruled after the horn by the officials. The points didn’t count but there was no denying who came out on top in the end.
“I was just expecting to be on defense most of the game and be a role player,” Carruth said. “Just to do my job.”