SoHi sweeps Kenai cagers

When the two archrivals — Kenai Central and Soldotna — play each other in just about any sport, the crowds get up for the action, and on Tuesday night at SoHi, they got their money’s worth.


SoHi swept the Kards, winning the girls game 51-37, and the boys game 45-41.

For the boys, it was Soldotna’s Colton Young icing the game with two dagger 3’s, the latter with 54 seconds left which put the Stars up six points.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it, I just shot it and it went in,” Young said. “Got lucky, I guess. I’m confident shooting those shots, I’m thankful they went in.

“Our coach said be strong with the ball and don’t foul them.”

Cory Carver tallied 19 points to lead the Stars, while Young had 11. Shane Spalding paced the Kardinals with 14 points and teammate Wyatt Fitt added 12, including seven in the fourth quarter.

“One possession doesn’t win or lose a basketball game,” Kenai coach Ken Felchle said. “We just talked about how we were down four points with six seconds to go, and you got to go up for the basket, and try to extend the game as long as you can, get two points and call a timeout. That didn’t win or lose anything, we were down by four, and we thought we did the right thing, and we’ll learn from it.”

After a low-scoring second quarter, SoHi held a 20-15 lead, which they were able to extend to 31-23 heading into the fourth quarter.

However, led by Fitt and bench player Garrett Berg, Kenai muscled its way back into contention with an 11-5 run, capped by Spalding’s jumper with 2 minutes, 55 seconds, left.

On Soldotna’s next possession, Young hit a 3, followed by a Kenai layup from Fitt.

Fitt snuck in another layup with 1:19 left to put Kenai within a possession of SoHi, but Young sunk the 3 that ended it.

“We’ve had several close games and it’s nice to come out on top,” said SoHi coach Matt Johnson, referring to last weekend’s overtime games with Bartlett and Dimond. “We couldn’t quite get over the hump, and so tonight I felt the guys executed well down the stretch and handled the ball relatively well. We had a couple sets where we executed very well, and defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job dictating what they did offensively.”

The win leaves SoHi with a 7-8 overall season record and will face Colony next on the road at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Kenai has a 6-9 record and will play Kodiak at home at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Soldotna girls 51, Kenai 37

The SoHi girls got their season back on track with a win at home against rival Kenai on Tuesday.

The Kards did not go quietly, however, as they led Soldotna after one quarter and continued to do so early in the second.

“We thought that we played a very good 26 minutes,” Kenai coach Stacia Rustad said of the early effort. “They had a two-minute run in the second quarter and another run in the fourth quarter where they distanced themselves, but we’re proud of our kids. We put 37 points up a very talented team.”

Senior Sydney Taylor led the Kards with 15 points and teammate Cassie Ross chipped in 11, all coming in the second half. SoHi was paced by Katelyn Kerkvliet with 15 points and Kaillee Skjold with 13.

“We’re never not going to believe we’re going to win, and these girls never give up,” Rustad said. “They don’t quit until the final buzzer sounds.”

SoHi coach Doug Blossom said the early attack from Kenai didn’t faze his team too much, although the Stars did not expect it.

“I thought Kenai played a very good game,” Blossom said. “They had Taylor in the first half, and Ross in the second hitting shots and they kind of surprised us.”

After dropping four straight games to a few powerhouse teams, the Stars were looking to find their winning ways again, and after scoring only 20 points against Kenai’s scrappy defense in the first half, came back in the second half with 31 points.

It looked as though Kenai might rally back for an upset with 5:36 left in the game when Ross nailed a 3 to close the gap to 38-31, but SoHi held strong.

“It’s been tough on the kids, but the last four games we’ve played have been against, arguably top-five opponents in the state, and the first two games were two- and three-point games against Colony and Palmer,” Blossom said. “I think most coaches would tell you that Wasilla and Dimond are far ahead of the rest of the pack. I keep encouraging the girls and we work on things, but their shooting also hasn’t been as good recently. We have good shooters but they need to relax.

“I tell the kids, you don’t have to make the big shots, just make the easy shots.”

SoHi now owns an 8-4 overall record, and will travel north to face off with conference opponent Colony on Friday. The Knights defeated the Stars in a hotly-contested 36-33 game only two weeks ago.

The Kards’ record is 3-9 and travel to Kodiak on Friday to play the Bears at 7:30 p.m.


Tuesday boys

Stars 45, Kardinals 41

Kenai 10 5 8 18 —41

Soldotna 13 7 11 14 —45

KENAI CENTRAL (41) — Battistelli 1 0-0 3, J. McKee 3 1-2 7, Fitt 4 4-6 12, Berg 2 1-1 5, O’Neal 0 0-0 0, Spalding 5 4-5 14, Kibling 0 0-0 0. Totals — 15 10-14 41.

SOLDOTNA (45) — Tovoli 0 0-0 0, Penrod 1 0-0 2, Young 4 0-0 11, Conradi 0 0-0 0, Carver 4 9-13 19, Kruse 1 0-0 2, Martin 1 0-0 2, Fowler 3 0-0 7, McElroy 0 2-4 2. Totals — 14 11-17 45.

3-point goals — Kenai 1 (Battistelli); Soldotna 6 (Young 3, Carver 2, Fowler 1). Team fouls — Kenai 16, Soldotna 14. Fouled out — Penrod.

Tuesday girls

Stars 51, Kardinals 37

Kenai 8 8 8 13 —37

Soldotna 7 13 15 16 —51

KENAI CENTRAL (37) — Ostrander 0 0-0 0, English 0 0-0 0, Drury 0 0-0 0, Taylor 6 2-7 15, Steinbeck 0 0-0 0, Norville 2 2-4 7, Ross 4 0-0 11, Barcus 2 0-0 4. Totals — 16 4-11 37.

SOLDOTNA (51) — Benson 2 2-3 7, Kress 0 1-2 1, Litchfield 2 2-4 6, Wong 0 5-6 5, Hendricks 0 0-0 0, Kerkvliet 6 3-6 15, Westerman 2 0-0 4, Skjold 4 4-6 13, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 17-27 51.

3-point goals — Kenai 5 (Ross 3, Taylor, Norville); Soldotna 2 (Benson, Skjold). Team fouls — Kenai 20, Soldotna 16. Fouled out — none.


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