The Soldotna Stars’ undefeated season came to an end Thursday night at Soldotna, as Northern Lights conference rival Colony snapped SoHi’s streak in a 36-33 win. Soldotna now stands with a 7-1 overall record, while Colony is 6-3.
Colony was able to seal the deal with a strong fourth-quarter effort from junior Izzy Tweed, who had nine of Colony’s 11 fourth-quarter points. Tweed notched 12 points overall, while teammate Jennifer Solano had eight points.
Soldotna was led by junior Julie Litchfield with 10 points, while seniors Heidi Westerman and Kaillee Skjold each had six.
“It was fun, the intensity was pretty good and the contact was pretty solid,” Skjold said. “Overall we had a really good time. A lot of it was rebounding, a lot of it was about being physical, and we were pushing the tempo, and taking risks that weren’t necessary. We were maybe a little out of control, but the whole game everybody was a little on edge. “
It was pretty clear from the beginning that the two teams were very evenly matched, and both defenses were humming as each coach utilized a man-to-man defense. At halftime, the score was 16-15, with Soldotna holding the edge.
“Our defense was great, we kept them to only 36 points, and their defense was good too, but I thought early in the game, we missed a lot of easy shots because we shot intimidated,” SoHi coach Doug Blossom said. “We were just out of sync, and I don’t know why that was.
“We just didn’t hit some of the easier shots earlier in the game. I told the kids that if we were competitive I’d be proud of them, and it’s disappointing but we’ll play them again.”
After three quarters, SoHi continued to lead with a 27-25 margin, but once Tweed heated up in the fourth, it was too much for Soldotna to overcome. Tweed hit a jumper early on to tie it, then gave Colony the lead with a soaring 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 38 seconds left.
“Mostly I was just telling them to relax, focus and shoot with confidence,” Blossom said. “On defense, I don’t have to tell them anything. We sometimes get to playing really aggressive defense and it’s hard to slow down. I thought on offense when we pass the ball around, we got the shots.”
Westerman hit a layup with 4:15 remaining to put SoHi within a point, but Tweed hit another layup to distance the Knights. After missing two free throws with 18 seconds left, Soldotna’s Makayla Wong tried for a tying buzzer beater, but failed.
“When it got the end, they didn’t have any timeouts and we were up three, so we defended the 3-point line,” Colony coach Jeff Bowker said. “They did a good job, we worked on that scenario all week, just defend the 3-point line.”
Blossom said he was talking with Bowker earlier in the night and both agreed that some of the top teams in the state are currently in the Northern Lights Conference, naming Wasilla, Colony, Palmer and Kodiak all as teams that have the necessary skill to compete when the state tournament rolls around.
The Stars will face another NLC rival on Friday at 6 p.m. when they play Palmer.
Knights 59, Stars 46
Senior Hunter Eisenhower scored 25 points to lead Colony to a victory over Northern Lights Conference rival Soldotna on Thursday night at Soldotna. Teammate Joe Gray added 13 points of his own.
Soldotna’s leading scorer was Noah Fowler, who notched 19 points, and Colten Young added 10.
Both offenses got going early, leading to a score of 18-13 after one quarter with Colony leading, and a 33-24 score at the half. Both sides were also deadly from 3-point land, as Colony converted five treys and SoHi leading with eight, three each from Young and Fowler.
“They can just shoot it,” SoHi coach Matt Johnson said. “They have four or five kids that if you leave them open, they’ll make you pay. I felt we were too passive, defensively, and gave them too many open looks, but I thought our kids worked really hard to get back into the game.”
The Stars pushed closer to the Knights in the third quarter, hitting a 9-3 run to close to within three points, and started the fourth quarter trailing 40-37.
Fowler nailed a three with 1:51 left in the game that resulted in a 49-44 score, but that was as close as SoHi would get.
“We’re getting better,” Colony coach Tom Berg said. “Matt has a good group of guys, they always play hard, I have a lot of respect for them and their program, they battled again today, but what I said to my guys in the locker room was we’re nowhere where we want to be, but we’re making strides to where we want to be.”
Berg attributed the third-quarter slump of his team to disorganization issues, while Johnson said his team’s issues always seem to come in the second quarter.
“That’s kind of been a trend. We struggle in the second quarter in games, for whatever reason,” Johnson said. “I was really happy with how assertive (Noah Fowler) was offensively. That’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen him that assertive. Some of it was scoring, and some was passing.”
Colony leaves the Peninsula with a 6-4 season record, while Soldotna will continue on to face Palmer on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a 4-5 record.
Knights 36, Stars 33
Soldotna 8 8 11 6 —33
Colony 6 9 10 11 —36
SOLDOTNA (33) — Litchfield 3 3-4 10, Westerman 3 0-0 6, Skjold 3 0-0 6, Benson 1 0-0 2, Kress 1 0-0 2, Wong 2 0-2 4, Kerkvliet 0 3-4 3. Totals 13 6-10 33.
COLONY (36) — Tweed 5 0-0 12, Solano 3 2-2 8, Klapperich 1 4-7 6, Farris 2 0-1 4, Turcotte 1 0-0 2, Williardson 0 0-0 0, Brumbaugh 0 0-0 0, Michaelson 1 2-2 4. Totals 13 8-12 36.
3-point goals — Soldotna 1 (Litchfield); Colony 2 (Tweed 2).
Team fouls — Soldotna 13, Colony 10. Fouled out — none.
Knights 59, Stars 46
Soldotna 13 11 13 9 —46
Colony 18 15 7 19 —59
SOLDOTNA (46) — Fowler 7 2-2 19, Young 3 1-2 10, Penrod 4 0-1 8, Carver 1 1-2 4, Conradi 0 0-0 0, Tovoli 0 0-0 0, Spence 0 0-0 0, Kruse 1 2-2 5, Martin 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 6-9 46.
COLONY (59) — Eisenhower 8 7-8 25, Gray 3 6-6 13, Fulp 3 0-0 8, Compton 1 1-2 3, Menard 0 0-2 0, Umbarger 2 3-6 7, Huffman 0 0-0 0, Bush 1 1-3 3. Totals 18 18-27 59.
3-point goals — Soldotna 8 (Fowler 3, Young 3, Carver 1, Kruse 1); Colony 5 (Fulp 2, Eisenhower 2, Gray 1).
Team fouls — Soldotna 18, Colony 9. Fouled out — Penrod.