The Soldotna boys basketball team lost to Service 60-59 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Clark Cochrane Christmas Classic in Ketchikan.
Service had been dominant in the first four games of this season, with the lowest margin of victory at 42 points.
The Stars took a 36-25 lead at halftime and then nearly won the game on a last-second shot by Evan Withrow, who had 23 points. The off-balance shot by Withrow hit the back of the rim and bounced wide.
In the first half, the Stars were connecting on their jump shots. They hit four 3-pointers and a number of midrange shots to hit the locker room with a 36-25 lead.
Service coach Tyler Moor told the Ketchikan Daily News that the difference in the second half was his team’s defensive pressure.
Service was able to force Soldotna into turnovers and get easy buckets. Adam Klie also hit the offensive glass to give the Cougars extra possessions.
Klie, who finished with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 48-47 entering the final period.
Service pushed the lead to 57-51 with 3:30 to play, but SoHi found a way back into the game. Withrow completed a 3-point play with 19.1 seconds left to trim Service’s lead to 60-59.
The Cougars’ Amu Aukusitino missed two free throws with 14.5 seconds left, and the Stars called their final timeout with 9.6 seconds left. Service played great defense for the final 9.6 seconds and Withrow threw up a tough shot that just missed.
Cory Carver added 19 points for the Stars.
Friday, Soldotna will play Eatonville (Wash.) for third place at 3:45 p.m.
Cougars 60, Stars 59
SOLDOTNA (59) — Tanner Fowler 4, Colton Young 2, Cory Carver 19, Evan Withrow 23, Garrett Bosick 8, Jake Darrow 3.
SERVICE (59) — Adam Klie 21, Farimang Touray 7, Amu Aukisitino 8, Kylelle Brown 6, Marquis Robinson 8, Ihro Raguindin 4, AJ Collins 4, Darren Muller 2.