Carp’s Wallace knocks ’em down in the fourth

Caitlin Wallace came up big in a big game on Tuesday night, scoring 17 points as the Carpinteria girls basketball squad defeated rival Bishop Diego 43-39 at The Brickhouse.

Wallace went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter while also hitting a crucial 3-pointer with 3:25 left that gave the visitors a 5-point lead.

“That 3-pointer that Caitlin made was a back-breaker, right there,” said Cardinals coach Jeff Burich. “It kind of deflated us a bit, but all-in-all we just put them at the free-throw line too many times.”

Carpinteria’s Amanda Burch went 11-for-15 from the free-throw line, scoring 15 points.

The Warriors went 19-for-28 from the charity stripe on the night despite the Bishop student section doing all it could to distract them. Wallace was 8-for-10 and Amanda Burch was 11-for-15.

The victory puts both teams at 3-2 in the Frontier League, creating a 3-way tie for second place along with Malibu.

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“Especially with a close game, free throws mean everything. It was especially difficult for our team because, I mean, Bishop’s got an insane crowd. Hitting those free throws meant a lot,” said Wallace.

Essence Thornhill led Bishop with 13 points while Janelle Kohler had 10 points with 13 rebounds. The Cardinals fell behind by as much as 12 points early in the third quarter but clawed all the way back to tie the game on an offensive rebound and put-back by Thornhill with 3:49 to play in the game.

That’s when Wallace converted a pair of free throws, followed by a steal and the big trey.

Wallace and Burch have provided the vast majority of Carpinteria’s scoring this season, combining to average 31 points per contest. Coach Dan Mercer is okay with that. He said that if the two stars make their typical contributions, the team will likely need just six or eight points from a third player to be in position for the win.

Sierra Freeman delivered with eight.

“That was huge. All we’ve been saying all year is give us a third scorer with six or eight,” said Mercer. “She really had her best game of the year.”

Freeman’s defense, however, was just as crucial, as she nabbed five steals out of the 2-3 zone.

“I think that the team owes that all to Sierra Freeman,” said Wallace of the Warriors’ strong defense. “She had some killer steals and lay-ups and that really helped us with the lead in the first half.”

Bishop’s final lead came after Allison Breuer hit a free throw to make it 14-12 with 6:47 to go in the second quarter. The Cardinals, however, finished just 8-for-17 on freebies.

“We’ve had a couple of games like that. Against Villanova, we lost and missed 20 free throws,” said Burich. “When we miss we miss badly, and when we make them we’re usually on.”

While powerhouse Santa Clara has a stranglehold on first place in the league, the race for second place is certainly on. Carpinteria (12-7, 3-2) will try to avenge an earlier loss to Malibu when they head to the Sharks’ tank on Thursday, while Bishop (13-7, 3-2) hosts Santa Clara at the same time.

CARPINTERIA 43, BISHOP DIEGO 39

CARPINTERIA — DeLeon 2, Wallace 17, Burch 15, Jones 1, Freeman 8. Totals 11 19-28 43.

BISHOP DIEGO — Houston 3, Perez 7, Spence 3, Kohler 10, Breuer 3, Thornhill 13. Totals 15 8-17 39.

Carpinteria…10  18  4  11 — 43

Bishop Diego…12  7  9  11 — 39

3-point goals — C 1 (Wallace), BD 1 (Thornhill). Fouled out — Stimson, DeLeon.

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