Let the mathematicians do the math. The Soldotna girls are ready to play some basketball — at the Class 4A state tournament.
After finishing fourth at the Northern Lights Conference Tournament on Saturday and failing to earn an automatic qualification, Soldotna qualified Sunday based on its Winning Percentage Index, or WPI.
As in, SoHi’s WPI was .564986615, while Lathrop was excluded from the tournament due to a WPI of .564521294.
The WPI is calculated based on wins and losses against Class 4A competition. Those wins and losses are weighted according to the record of the teams they came against. Point differential and location of the games is not factored in.
The Stars’ inclusion in the tournament was announced in a Alaska School Activities Assocation webcast special at 7 p.m.
“I knew it was really close,” said Soldotna coach Doug Blossom, who makes a second-straight trip to state with the Stars, while the Stars are going for the third-straight time. “I think us being in a tougher region and playing tough matchups made a difference.”
The Northern Lights Conference put four schools in the top six — Wasilla at No. 1, Kodiak at No. 3, Colony at No. 4 and Soldotna at No. 6.
Not only did Soldotna make the tournament, but Blossom likes where his squad landed in the bracket.
SoHi (17-10) faces Kodiak at 8 a.m. March 21 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. The Stars topped the Bears twice this season, although those victories came when Kodiak did not have inside threat Hannah Wandersee.
“I think Kodiak is a good matchup,” Blossom said. “The kids should be confident. It’s nice to be not in the same side of the bracket as Wasilla.”
Saturday, SoHi lost to Colony 47-46, with a controversial no-call as the horn sounded marking the end of the game. Had the Stars won that game, there would have been no drama Sunday.
Blossom likes where his team is right now. He said Kelci Benson is making outside shots, Katelynn Kerkvliet is providing a post presence and Makayla Wong is playing strong defense. He also said Natalie Kress and Heidi Westerman are making crucial hustle plays.
The four additional Peninsula schools that qualified for state learned their first-round matchups Sunday, although those four all knew coming in that they were in the tournament.
The Seward boys play Bethel in the 3A tournament at 8 a.m March 21 at Sullivan, the Seward girls play Barrow at 11:30 a.m. on March 21 at the Sullivan, the Cook Inlet Academy girls play Buckland at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at West High School in Anchorage in the Class 1A tourney, and the Nikolaevsk girls play Yakutat at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at West in the Class 1A tourney.