Down 12 points midway through the third quarter, the Nikiski boys managed to rally back and take a big win at Skyview on Friday night, beating the Panthers 61-52 in a Southcentral Conference matchup.
Seth Carstens led the Bulldogs with a big 29-point effort after starting with only five points in the first half. DJ Collier paced Skyview with 13 points, and teammate Kaleb Henderson added 12.
Nikiski took an early lead, but Skyview took control shortly before the first quarter ended, and extended its lead to 27-21 at halftime.
Early in the second half, Skyview padded its lead even more, and when Brandon Rice sank a jumper with five minutes, 11 seconds, left in the third, the Panthers were up 38-26. Nikiski then found its rhythm, and began to chip away at the deficit.
“I would say the guys really brought more energy and more focus on the defensive end,” Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad said. “On the offensive end, I think they really decided to play strong when they got the ball down in the paint. That put Skyview in foul trouble, which I know hurt them. They responded with energy and were doing the things we were asking them to do.”
Nikiski ended the quarter on a 15-5 run, and the energy continued into the fourth quarter. Carstens found a number of breakaway layups assisted by Luke and Lincoln Johnson and Stephen Hartley, and it was Carstens that gave the Bulldogs the lead when he hit a free throw with 4:46 left in the game.
“We had a lot of offensive rebounds, and in the second half, we were able to convert those to points,” Kornstad said. “In the first half, we weren’t as strong when we got those rebounds.”
By the time Luke Johnson converted on a quick layup with 3:44 remaining, the Bulldogs owned a 52-45 advantage and had outscored Skyview on a 26-7 run. From there, Skyview found itself in foul trouble trying to catch up.
Early in the game, Skyview’s Tim Duke fell victim to an ankle injury and sat the rest of the game out, which put the Panthers in an uncomfortable position.
“They did a good job of playing hard the whole game,” Skyview coach Jesse Settlemyer said. “For us, it was kind of a war of attrition. We got hurt when Tim went down, and it hurt us in terms of our ability to sub, and we got into a little bit of foul trouble, and they did a good job of taking advantage of our foul situation and wearing us down.”
The Nikiski boys now own a 3-7 season record.
Nikiski girls 52, Skyview 20
Nikiski girls team took its third consecutive win on Friday night by defeating conference opponent Skyview.
The Bulldogs feasted on turnovers and steals, which led to many breakaway layups and transition points. Emily Lynch accounted for 10 of Nikiski’s 26 steals, and put up 15 points to pace the ’Dawgs. Teammate Rachel Thompson added 11 points and grabbed nine steals, and Sienna Wallis had 11 points as well.
Skyview’s top scorer was Sam Reynolds with nine points — all from 3-point land.
“We felt like we played the best when we were pressuring hard on defense and that allows them to be freed up to play,” Nikiski coach Scott Anderson said. “We have smart girls, and sometimes they tend to overthink things. We were simplifying it and telling them to go out there and get steals.”
Early in the game, the play was rather close, as a 13-11 Nikiski lead would indicate as halftime neared.
Reynolds nailed a trey with 2:25 remaining in the half, and from there, things got ugly.
Nikiski used turnovers and fast breaks to score 31 unanswered points. That’s right, the margin went from two to 33, ending when Lynch sank a 3-pointer with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 44-11 score.
“Skyview has really improved, and we knew coming in that it was going to be a battle, and I’m not surprised that it was close early,” Anderson said. “The difference was that we’ve been talking a lot about the girls’ mental toughness, and pushing through and playing a whole game. I told them if you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to make it at a 100 miles an hour. They made a few mistakes but when they were able to get a few turnovers in the first half and finish those, it blew the game open.”
Nikiski now holds a 6-4 overall season record.
Bulldogs 52, Panthers 20
NIKISKI (52) — Lynch 6 1-5 15, Wallis 5 1-4 11, Thompson 4 3-4 11, Epperheimer 3 0-1 6, Litzen 2 0-0 4, Cook 1 0-0 2, Holloway 1 0-0 2, Darch 0 1-2 1, Costello 0 0-0 0, Litke 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 6-16 52.
3-point goals — Nikiski 2 (Lynch 2); Skyview