Area teams swept in Friday NLC play

SoHi drops 2 semifinals

A day after celebrating both teams winning, the Soldotna basketball squads fell to their opponents on Friday at the Northern Lights Conference tournament at Soldotna High School.


The SoHi boys fell short after nearly rallying from a 22-point deficit to lose against the Colony Knights 58-45, while the SoHi girls were dominated by the Wasilla Warriors in a 62-40 contest.

The boys game could have been mistaken for a 3-point contest, as 42 combined shots were taken between the two teams from beyond the arc. SoHi converted on 6-of-25 attempts, while Colony made 7-of-17.

Colony’s Hunter Eisenhower led all players with 18 points and teammate Damien Fulp added 13. Cory Carver led SoHi with 16 points and six boards.

The Stars burst out of the gate and looked primed for an upset of the No. 1-seeded Knights. Carver and Noah Fowler combined points to give SoHi a 12-4 lead in the first three minutes of the game.

Colony was able to shut SoHi down a bit in the middle two quarters, holding the Stars to nine points total in those two periods of play. After hitting 3-of-5 3-point attempts in the first quarter, SoHi went 0-for-7 in the second.

“I thought we still had a lot of good looks,” SoHi coach Matt Johnson said about the second and third quarters. “When we were down I figured that we weren’t going to be that patient in the third quarter, but I thought we took a lot of good looks, we just didn’t knock them down. Colony is obviously a really good team, they’re No. 1 in the region.”

Of course, a game of basketball can sometimes be won on momentum, and although Colony had built up a 43-21 lead and looked destined to cruise to the easy win, SoHi got a much-needed breath of life when Colton Young sank a half-court buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter.

Noah Fowler then added another three points only 14 seconds into the fourth quarter, and it seemed SoHi was ready for a Hail Mary. Fowler ended up with nine points in the game.

“We got a little momentum going and that next three- or four-minute stretch, they didn’t handle the full-court pressure very well and we were able to get them to turn it over a little bit,” Johnson said. “We had some more good opportunities then, and we were digging into that lead, but when they started making buckets again, I think we were driving too hard and we had a couple offensive rebounds and just couldn’t finish it.”

Colony coach Tom Berg said that while any win in the conference tournament is a good win, this one had to be earned, even when the Knights were up by 22 points.

“They made some shots and they’re good shooters, so part of it is knowing that when they’re down by that many, they’re going to take the first 3 they can get, and they made a couple,” Berg said. “But when you shoot a lot of 3s, you get a lot of rebound chances. We took a lot of 3s in the quarter to slow their momentum a bit, so I thought we could’ve been more patient.”

Over the course of five and a half minutes, SoHi closed the gap from 22 to eight points, riding a 22-8 run that culminated with two free throws from Carver with 2:33 left in the game. SoHi tallied 21 points in the fourth quarter.

That would be as close as the Stars would get, though, and thus the Knights are the ones riding off to play the Palmer Moose in the championship game, while SoHi goes to face Kodiak in the third-place game.

Wasilla girls 62, Soldotna 40

The top-seeded Warriors, who took a bye day on Thursday, used a relentless defensive press to force the Stars into making mistakes that cost them points in Friday’s semifinal round.

The Warriors face the Kodiak Bears in the championship game, and SoHi meets its old nemesis, Colony, in the third-place game at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

“Usually that first game is what gets us going, and this was our first game, so we talked about that, being mentally prepared to go out right off the bat and try to play a better team,” said Wasilla coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax, referring to the bye day on Thursday. “Usually we play a weaker team the first day, so we had to be ready for (Soldotna).”

Wasilla’s Kyla Dinkle and Alexis Imoe led the game in scoring, getting 22 and 21 points, respectively. Dinkle also grabbed 10 rebounds.

SoHi was paced by Kaillee Skjold with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and teammate Katelynn Kerkvliet followed with 11.

The teams were about equal controlling the glass (Wasilla led 40-39 in rebounding), but the Warriors got 20 points off of turnovers, compared to six for SoHi.

“I think the girls played tougher and stronger during lapses that we had at certain times in the game,” Hebert-Truax said. “Defensively, I think we played well, but we couldn’t keep them off the boards.”

The first quarter played out rather even, with Wasilla taking a 14-10 lead away. From there, it was all about Imoe and Dinkle, who led the charge en route to a 37-20 halftime lead and getting 23 points in the second quarter.

The Stars had 18 turnovers, twice as many as Wasilla, and struggled from beyond the arc, hitting zero 3-pointers on nine attempts.

Hebert-Truax said one thing that her team needs to improve on is being ready after a shot attempt. SoHi grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.

“I think that’s a high for playing this team, so we just got to take care and control the boards a little more, and our shots for the first half, we were executing well but they weren’t falling, so when that happens we need to be on our guard more,” she said.

Wasilla boys 51,
Kenai 48, OT

Friday started with the excitement of the boys consolation game, which went into overtime after neither team could break a 44-all tie.

Stone Krueger had two buckets in the four-minute extra period to help the Warriors outscore Kenai 7-4 in overtime.

Dane Kuiper led all scorers with 19 points for Wasilla. Wyatt Fitt paced Kenai with 14 points and teammate Josh McKee added 12. Gugliellmo Battistelli had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.

Kenai never led in the game, which saw Wasilla lead by as much as seven points early, but came up big when needed.

Wasilla held a 38-31 lead with 6:38 left in the game, but Kenai received a few clutch shots from Battistelli and McKee and one 3-pointer from J’Von O’Neal, which kept the Kards within one possession of Wasilla.

Fitt tipped in his own rebound with 41 seconds left to close the gap to two points, and Jonah Theisen hit the tying field goal with 11 seconds left.

Kuiper failed to convert on a shot with five seconds left to win it for Wasilla, but the Warriors were able to finish strong in overtime. Kenai’s only overtime points came from Fitt, who had two field goal shots.

Palmer girls 49, Kenai 44

The Kenai girls came up short in a close game with the Moose on Friday, as Palmer’s Kourtney Straight iced the game with 54 seconds left on a free throw.

Other than an early 11-3 lead for Palmer, the Kenai girls were able to stay close, as senior guard Sydney Taylor led the Kards with a game-high 25 points, and teammate Hannah Barcus stepped up her game with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Taylor Blake had 22 points to lead Palmer.

Sydney Taylor’s basket with 1:55 left in the third quarter gave Kenai a 34-32 lead, but Caitlyn Scott put Palmer up for good just 16 seconds later with a 3-point dagger.

In the fourth quarter, Blake’s eight points extended the lead, but Kenai closed back up to 45-43 with a bucket from Barcus with 1:31 remaining. When Kenai started fouling to give them offensive possessions, Palmer closed the game with clutch free throws.

In the final quarter, Palmer proved its efficiency by going 4-for-6 on field goals, while Kenai struggled with 3-for-15 shooting.

Palmer boys 58, Kodiak 53

The Moose stamped their way into the championship final on Saturday by stopping the Bears in a tight semifinal game on Friday.

Connor Looney, Brian Selmer and James Nisbett had 45 combined points for Palmer, as Looney topped all players with 16 points and 10 boards, Selmer had 15 points and Nisbett added 14.

Palmer also shot efficiently, going 20-for-39 on shot attempts in the game.

Jemuel Mangalus led Kodiak with 12 points. The Bears will challenge Soldotna for third-place honors.

Kodiak girls 34, Colony 18

The second-seeded Bears used superb defense against the Knights on Friday to qualify for the NLC championship game against the top seed Wasilla Warriors slated for Saturday.

Kodiak’s Carissa Cannon led all scorers with 12 points, while Mary Klapperich led Colony with five.

Colony actually got off to a fast start, getting two 3-pointers from Klapperich and Izzy Tweed in the first minute of the game, but from there, things got ugly.

Colony led 10-8 early in the second quarter, but Kodiak streaked out on 17-2 run to end the first half with a 25-12 lead.

Colony’s scoring drought continued into the second half, as the Knights were held scoreless in the third quarter. It wasn’t until Sadie Willardson knocked down a field goal with 5:27 left in the game that Colony improved on the 12 points it had. By that time, Kodiak had amassed 34 points, and Colony had suffered through 15 minutes, 9 seconds, without a single point.

Friday boys

Warriors 51, Kardinals 48, OT

Wasilla 13 9 10 12 7 -51

Kenai 10 9 12 13 4 -48

WASILLA (51) — Kuiper 6 7-8 19, McGregor 5 0-0 13, Baham 0 2-2 2, Brown 1 0-0 2, Carney 0 0-0 0, Cook 1 0-0 2, Dawkins 0 0-0 0, Garnett 1 0-0 3, Hanson 1 0-0 2, Krueger 4 0-3 8. Totals 18 9-13 51.

KENAI (48) — Fitt 6 2-2 14, J. McKee 6 0-0 12, Battistelli 4 0-0 11, Berg 0 0-0 0, Kibling 2 0-0 4, Liedes 1 0-0 2, O’Neal 1 0-0 3, Spry 0 0-0 0, Theisen 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 2-2 48.

3-point goals — Wasilla 2 (Garnett 1, McGregor 1); Kenai 2 (Battistelli 1, O’Neal 1).

Team fouls — Wasilla 9; Kenai 15. Fouled out — Battistelli.

Knights 58, Stars 45

Colony 16 13 14 15 —58

Soldotna 15 4 5 21 —45

COLONY (58) — Eisenhower 5 6-6 18, Compton 0 0-0 0, Gray 3 1-1 9, Fulp 3 5-6 13, Menard 1 0-0 3, Umbarger 2 1-2 5, Huffman 0 0-0 0, Bush 5 0-0 10. Totals 19 13-15 58.

SOLDOTNA (45) — Carver 5 5-8 16, Tovoli 0 0-0 0, Penrod 2 3-5 7, Young 2 0-0 6, Conradi 1 0-0 2, Kruse 1 0-0 3, Martin 1 0-0 2, N. Fowler 3 1-2 9, McElroy 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 9-15 45.

3-point goals — Colony 7 (Gray 2, Fulp 2, Eisenhower 2, Menard 1); Soldotna 6 (Young 2, N. Fowler 2, Carver 1, Kruse 1).

Team fouls — Colony 20; Soldotna 17. Fouled out — Penrod.

Friday girls

Warriors 62, Stars 40

Wasilla 14 23 14 11 —62

Soldotna 10 10 11 9 —40

WASILLA (62) — Dinkle 8 6-10 22, Imoe 8 2-2 21, Ford 0 0-0 0, Devine 6 0-1 12, Towes 0 0-0 0, Hutchins 3 0-0 6, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Burke 0 1-2 1. Totals 25 9-15 62.

SOLDOTNA (40) — Skjold 6 1-2 13, Kerkvliet 5 1-2 11, Benson 0 0-0 0, Litchfield 1 6-10 8, Kress 0 0-0 0, Wong 1 2-2 4, Hendricks 0 2-2 2, Westerman 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 12-18 40.

3-point goals — Wasilla 3 (Imoe 3); Soldotna 0.

Team fouls — Wasilla 12; Soldotna 13. Fouled out — none.

Moose 49, Kardinals 44

Palmer 13 9 13 14 —49

Kenai 11 9 14 10 —44

PALMER (49) — Blake 8 6-11 22, Southwick 4 0-0 8, Venzke 0 0-0 0, K. DePriest 2 3-6 7, Scott 2 2-2 7, Osiensky 0 0-0 0, Straight 0 3-6 3, L. DePriest 1 0-2 2. Totals 16 14-28 49.

KENAI (44) — Taylor 8 3-8 25, Barcus 2 6-12 10, English 1 1-2 3, Steinbeck 0 0-0 0, Norvelle 1 1-2 3, Ross 1 0-0 3, Every 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 11-24 44.

3-point goals — Palmer 1 (Scott); Kenai 3 (Taylor 2, Ross 1).

Team fouls — Palmer 21; Kenai 24. Fouled out — Taylor, Ross.


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