The Kenai Central boys ended their season in the Class 4A state tournament with a 51-38 loss to Juneau-Douglas in the fourth-place game Saturday at the UAA Wells Fargo Sports Arena in Anchorage.
“We watched them play for the first time the other day, decided they like to do step-up dribble drives, and so we talked about trying to contain their dribble penetration,” Juneau head coach Robert Casperson said. “They have some very strong, aggressive players who are able to attack the basket, so credit goes to them.”
Juneau was led by Tony Yadao, who had 16 points.
“We wanted to have the clock be our friend, but those kids at Kenai never quit, and they kept coming,” Casperson said. “We almost had the chance to push this game to a 20-point lead, and a minute and a half later it was back down to 10.”
Kenai suffered through a sluggish start, as the Kards were outscored 29-20 in the first half.
After they trailed 39-27 after the third quarter, Kenai attempted to make a comeback in the fourth.
“Had it gone our way, it could’ve been a closer game, but credit goes to Juneau, that is a quality team,” Kenai head coach Ken Felchle said. “If they won that game against Service the first night, they could be right there playing for the championship, and they got up on us early, and there were signs we could have pulled up the tents and called it good, but the team didn’t quit.”
Kenai got to within eight points of Juneau midway through the fourth quarter, but never any closer, as Juneau cruised to the win.
“I told the team if someone pushes you and punches you in the face, don’t take it, just keep swinging back, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Felchle said.
Kenai senior Bo Reilly, who had four points, said the slow start hurt his squad.
“They just came out harder than we did, and if we had started with a zone defense, it may have given them more trouble,” he said.
Colton Hayes had 16 points to lead Kenai, and teammate AJ Hull had 14 points.
“That’s game thirty this season for us,” Felchle said. “To play with that much heart and determination, it’s just a testament to the quality of these young men.”
Kenai has some work to do over the offseason, as a chunk of the core of the team will be graduating in the spring, which includes AJ Hull, Bo Reilly, Joe Sandahl, Colton Hayes and Alex Springer.
“It’s going to take a great deal of work, we are losing a lot of talent and leadership, but that’s the normal procedure of what happens,” Felchle said. “Next year is going to be a rebuilding year, and I’m going to tell the boys that they need a break before they go back at it during the offseason.”
ASAA First National Bank Alaska Basketball State Championships.
Crimson Bears 51, Kardinals 38
JUNEAU (51) — Calloway 4 0-0 8, Fenumiai 3 3-5 9, Gross 0 1-2 1, Ibesate 2 4-7 9, Kelly 1 0-0 2, Lehnhar 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Pusich 0 0-0 0, Shoemaker 2 2-2 6, Stange 0 0-0 0, Yadao 6 2-5 16. Totals 18 12-21 51.
KENAI (38) — Berg 0 0-0 0, Fitt 1 0-0 2, Hansen 0 0-0 0, Hayes 5 6-7 16, Hull 6 2-6 14, Kibling 0 0-0 0, McKee 0 0-0 0, Reilly 1 2-2 4, Sandahl 0 0-0 0, Spalding 1 0-0 2, Springer 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-16 38.
3-point goals — Juneau 3 (Yadao 2, Ibesate 1); Kenai 0.
Team fouls -— Juneau 11, Kenai 17. Fouled out — Calloway, Reilly.