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Kenai emerges victorious in Kenai River Challenge

Posted: December 21, 2013 - 9:07pm  |  Updated: December 21, 2013 - 10:12pm
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Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Kenai's Hannah Drury is thwarted in a layup attempt by Bethel Lady Warrior Marina Crow during their game Friday Dec. 20, 2013 in Kenai, Alaska.
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kenai's Hannah Drury is thwarted in a layup attempt by Bethel Lady Warrior Marina Crow during their game Friday Dec. 20, 2013 in Kenai, Alaska.

The home team Kenai Central Kardinals swept all three of their weekend games at the Kenai River Challenge and it was their stingy defense that won them the tournament championship Saturday.

The Kards combined to allow only 89 points in three games against Thunder Mountain, Bethel and Mt. Edgecumbe, while Soldotna — a team that also went 3-0 for the weekend — allowed a combined 121 points.

Ultimately, those numbers ended up being the tiebreaker for the tournament trophy, which Kenai coach Stacia Rustad proudly held up for her team to enjoy.

Saturday, the points were especially at a premium, as the Kards edged Mt. Edgecumbe 22-19. The visiting Braves converted only five field goals in the game.

Senior Justice English’s 14 points paved the way for Kenai, and Renatta Olson topped Mt. Edgecumbe with six points.

Kenai trailed 10-7 at halftime, but the Kardinals used their scrappy defensive pressure to force Mt. Edgecumbe into turnovers, and with 1 minute, 53 seconds, left in the game, a jumper from English gave Kenai its first lead at 19-17.

Free-throw points from Hannah Barcus and Caitie Steinbeck in the final 12 seconds put Kenai up more than a possession, but Olsen was fouled with two ticks left and converted both her free throws. That put the Braves back with an outside chance of catching Kenai.

With one second left, English was fouled and converted on one of her two free throws, and the Braves were unsuccessful in scoring on the ensuing inbounds pass.

Mt. Edgecumbe’s Taryn White captured MVP tournament honors. The All-Tournament team was composed of Soldotna’s Julie Litchfield, Kelci Benson and Katelynn Kerkvliet; Nikiski’s Rachel Thompson and Emily Lynch; Kenai’s Justice English; Mt. Edgecumbe’s Payton Weisz; Bethel’s Riana Joseph and Thunder Mountain’s Ashley Young.

Soldotna girls 57, Bethel 38

Julie Litchfield led the Stars to their third win in as many days at the Kenai River Challenge, scoring 18 points en route to the win. Teammate Katelynn Kerkvliet added 13.

Leading Bethel 8-7 after one quarter, Soldotna opened the gap with a 20-point second quarter performance and went into halftime with a 28-19 lead.

The Stars ended any hopes from Bethel attempting a comeback by putting up 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Nikiski girls 46,
Thunder Mountain 36

The Bulldogs burst out of the gates with 21 points in the first quarter to ease to a win on Saturday at the Kenai River Challenge at Kenai Central High School.

Seven Nikiski players were in the scoring column, led by Emily Lynch with 12 points and followed by Katie Costello with 10.

Leading 32-16 at halftime, the Falcons attempted a comeback by outscoring Nikiski 14-7 in the third quarter, but six points in the fourth were not enough for Thunder Mountain to rally for the win.

FRIDAY

There’s nothing better than winning an exciting game on your home floor at your own tournament, and the Kenai Central girls basketball team did exactly that on Friday night, rallying from 10 points down in the second half to post a 38-36 win over visiting Bethel at the Kenai River Challenge tournament.

Senior Justice English led the Kards with 17 points — 13 in the second half — as Kenai outscored the Warriors 14-6 in the fourth quarter.

“I think we got a little motivated at halftime, and came out and the third quarter was better,” said Kenai coach Stacia Rustad. “The fourth quarter ... yeah we just dug a little deep, and that just comes down to character in my opinion.

“We are very young. I have a lot of young kids getting a lot of minutes, and we’re just superproud of their effort and their execution.”

Trailing 21-13 at halftime, the Kards managed to close the gap more than once on Bethel, but every time Kenai had momentum, Bethel answered back with a few buckets of their own. With 3:15 left in the third quarter, Kenai trailed 28-18.

“We struggled in the first half,” Rustad said. “I thought we were flat and there was very little intensity.”

Finally, in the fourth frame, English — along with the help of fellow senior Catie Steinbeck — was able to string together strong drives to the rim that continued to chip away at Bethel’s lead, and with 2:17 to go, Hannah Barcus converted on a layup that knotted the contest at 36.

The biggest advantage Kenai enjoyed was turnovers. The Kardinals’ scrappy defense forced Bethel into some costly turnovers in the final two minutes that kept the Warriors from scoring, and a jumper from English with 1:42 left gave Kenai its first lead of the game, and the home team held on to win.

Soldotna girls 66,
Thunder Mountain 48

The Stars continued to stamp their dominance at the Kenai River Challenge tournament with a strong second-half effort over the Falcons on Friday night at Kenai Central High School.

Senior Kelci Benson took control with 25 points of her own to lead SoHi, and teammate Katelynn Kerkvliet added 19. Julie Litchfield completed the trio of senior performances with an additional 14 points.

Thunder Mountain staked out an early lead, leading 15-11 after the first quarter, but Benson scored 11 of Soldotna’s 19 points in the second quarter that put the Stars into the lead.

Leading 30-25 at the half, SoHi extended its lead with a dominating third quarter, outscoring Thunder Mountain 24-7.

Mt. Edgecumbe 33,
Nikiski 31

After starting hot, the Bulldogs were cooled by the Braves in the second half and dropped their second game of the Kenai River Challenge tournament on Friday at Kenai Central High School.

Junior Rachel Thompson led Nikiski with 14 points, while teammate Emily Lynch added eight. Mt. Edgecumbe was led by Taryn White with 15 points.

Holding a 15-13 lead at halftime, the Braves continued to dog the Bulldogs and eventually broke an 18-all tie with 3:40 left in the third quarter on a layup from White.

In the fourth quarter, it was Nikiski that was doing the hunting, as they never trailed by more than four points.

Thompson got a steal of a Braves player in the waning seconds and took the ball across the court for a layup with five seconds left that closed the gap to two points, and on the ensuing Edgecumbe possession, Lynch managed to get the steal, but the shot missed.

Saturday girls

Kardinals 22, Braves 19

Mt. Edgecumbe 3 7 7 2 —19

Kenai 5 2 6 9 —22

MT. EDGECUMBE (19) — Morry 0 0-0 0, Olson 1 4-6 6, Akavan 0 2-2 2, Holly 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, White 1 2-8 4, Thomas 0 0-0 0, Mute 1 0-0 2, Weisz 1 1-2 3. Totals — 5 9-18 19.

KENAI CENTRAL (22) — Ostrander 0 0-0 0, English 4 6-11 14, Drury 0 0-0 0, Baker 0 0-0 0, Steinbeck 0 1-2 1, Barcus 1 2-10 4, Beck 1 1-4 3, Every 0 0-0 0. Totals — 6 10-23 22.

3-point goals — none. Team fouls — Mt. Edgecumbe 20, Kenai 13. Fouled out — none.

Stars 57, Warriors 38

Bethel 7 12 9 10 —38

Soldotna 8 20 11 18 —57

BETHEL (38) — Oscar 2 1-2 6, F. Brink 1 0-0 2, Thomas 1 0-0 2, O’Brien 0 0-0 0, R. Brink 1 1-2 3, Williams 2 0-0 6, Joseph 5 4-5 14, Crow 1 0-0 2, Kessner-Kinegak 1 1-2 3. Totals — 14 7-11 38.

SOLDOTNA (57) — Nelson 2 0-1 4, Benson 3 1-2 8, Litchfield 6 6-7 18, Steadman 0 0-0 0, Hendricks 4 0-3 8, Kerkvliet 4 5-7 13, Miller 3 0-2 6, Schneider 0 0-0 0, McElroy 0 0-2 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 12-24 57.

3-point goals — Bethel 3 (Williams 2, Oscar); Soldotna 1 (Benson). Team fouls — Bethel 20, Soldotna 16. Fouled out — R. Brink.

Bulldogs 46, Falcons 36

T. Mountain 8 8 14 6 —36

Nikiski 21 11 7 7 —46

THUNDER MOUNTAIN (36) — Echiverri 3 1-2 7, Dicario 0 0-0 0, Strong 0 0-0 0, Demmert 2 0-0 6, Martin 0 1-2 1, Ekis 0 0-1 0, Young 3 3-5 9, Tudo 4 1-2 13. Totals — 12 6-12 36.

NIKISKI (46) — Riddall 0 0-0 0, Cook 3 0-0 6, Costello 3 4-4 10, Litke 1 0-0 2, Lynch 5 2-6 12, Thompson 4 1-2 9, Litzen 0 1-2 1, Darch 2 2-4 6. Totals — 18 10-18 46.

3-point goals — Thunder Mountain 6 (Tudo 4, Demmert 2). Team fouls — Thunder Mountain 16, Nikiski 14. Fouled out — Echiverri, Young.

All-Tournament Team

MVP — Taryn White, Mt. Edgecumbe.

Team — Julie Litchfield, Soldotna; Kelci Benson, Soldotna; Riana Joseph, Bethel; Rachel Thompson, Nikiski; Ashley Young, Thunder Mountain; Justice English, Kenai; Katelynn Kerkvliet, Soldotna; Emily Lynch, Nikiski; Payton Weisz, Mt. Edgecumbe.

Friday girls

Kardinals 38, Warriors 36

Kenai 7 6 11 14 —38

Bethel 8 13 9 6 —36

KENAI (38) — English 8 1-7 17, Barcus 2 3-4 7, Ostrander 1 0-0 2, Drury 0 0-0 0, Baker 1 1-2 3, C. Steinbeck 3 0-0 6, Beck 1 0-2 2, Every 0 1-2 1. Totals 16 6-17 38.

BETHEL (36) — Joseph 8 1-2 17, R. Brink 4 4-4 13, Oscar 0 0-0 0, F. Brink 0 0-0 0, Thomas 0 0-0 0, O’Brien 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-0 2, Crow 1 0-0 2, Kessner-Kinegak 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 5-6 36.

3-point goals — Kenai 0; Bethel 1 (R. Brink).

Stars 66, Falcons 48

Soldotna 11 19 24 12 —66

Thunder Mt. 15 10 7 16 —48

SOLDOTNA (66) — Benson 9 3-6 25, Kerkvliet 9 1-4 19, Litchfield 6 2-2 14, Nelson 1 0-0 2, Steadman 0 0-0 0, Hendricks 2 0-2 4, Miller 1 0-0 2, Schneider 0 0-0 0, McElroy 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 6-14 66.

Thunder Mt. (48) — Young 8 3-4 19, Echiverri 5 2-6 12, Dicario 0 0-0 0, Strong 0 0-0 0, Demmert 1 0-0 3, Martin 1 0-1 2, Ekis 4 0-1 9, Tupo 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 5-12 48.

3-point goals — Soldotna 4 (Benson 4); Thunder Mt. 3 (Demmert 1, Ekis 1, Tupo 1).

Braves 33, Bulldogs 31

Mt. Edgecumbe 3 10 10 10 —33

Nikiski 9 6 8 8 —31

EDGECUMBE (33) — White 5 5-8 15, Olson 2 0-0 6, Akavan 0 0-0 0, Holly 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Thomas 4 0-0 8, Mute 0 0-0 0, Weisz 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 5-8 33.

NIKISKI (31) — Thompson 5 1-2 14, Riddall 0 0-0 0, Cook 1 0-0 2, Costello 0 0-0 0, Litke 0 0-0 0, Lynch 3 2-4 8, Litzen 1 0-2 3, Darch 2 0-2 4. Totals 12 3-10 31.

3-point goals — Mt. Edgecumbe 2 (Olson 2); Nikiski 4 (Thompson 3, Litzen 1).

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