The Soldotna girls basketball team had a goal to get to Saturday’s game in the Class 4A state tournament. The Stars still have a chance to play Saturday, but if they do, it will be in the fourth-place match, as they lost their first-round game to Colony 44-35 Thursday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The Stars, the No. 4 seed, suffered through poor shooting that ultimately led to the loss to the No. 5 seed Knights, head coach Doug Blossom said.
“When you shoot like we did today, it doesn’t win you ballgames at state,” Blossom said. “When you play the best teams in the state, you have to shoot better.”
Soldotna made 13 of 40 field-goal attempts, and 2 of 9 3-point shots, and while Colony was not much better, they had more shots at the basket.
“As a team, it’s hard to hear out there, so we weren’t always on the same page as our offense just because it’s such an open court,” junior Kaillee Skjold said. “They definitely beat us over the top with their press, which was frustrating.”
Skjold led Soldotna with 15 points, and teammate Heidi Westerman had 10 points.
“It’s hard to maintain the intensity in that place, because you feel isolated,” Skjold said.
Mary Klapperich and Saige Stefanski each had 13 points to lead Colony to the win. The Knights beat the Stars in state’s first round for the second straight year, and also avenged a regular-season defeat to Soldotna.
Soldotna held the lead from the end of the first quarter to halftime, when the score was tied at 16.
Soldotna was able to grab the lead back again with shots from Heidi Westerman and Makayla Wong, but Colony took the lead for the final time with a pair of free throws from Faith Farris with 3:41 remaining in the third.
“We’ve spent a ton of time practicing, and when it’s the game, you have to shoot with confidence, and you have to put them in,” Blossom said.
Blossom said while the loss is disappointing, the level of play Colony displayed should have had Soldotna closer in the game.
“I don’t think their defensive pressure was that good,” he said. “I think we just got excited, and too anxious to shoot the ball, and now we’re going to refocus and prepare for tomorrow.”
Soldotna is set to play Palmer at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
“I’m just going to have fun now, and our goal is to play on Saturday,” Skjold said.
ASAA First National Bank Alaska Basketball State Championships
Knights 44, Stars 35
COLONY (44) — Klapperich 5 3-6 13, Farris 0 2-4 2, Tweed 2 2-2 7, Nelson 2 5-8 9, Simmons 0 0-0 0, Brumbaugh 0 0-0 0, Payne 0 0-0 0, Stefanski 6 1-1 13, Solano 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 13-21 44.
SOLDOTNA (35) — Benson 1 0-0 2, Kress 0 0-0 0, Litchfield 1 4-8 6, Wong 1 0-0 2, Kerkvliet 0 0-0 0, Westerman 5 0-1 10, Skjold 5 3-7 15. Totals 13 7-16 35.
3-point goals — Colony 1 (Tweed 1); Soldotna 2 (Skjold 2).
Team fouls — Colony 13, Soldotna 19. Fouled out — Kress, Litchfield.