Nikiski, Grace split Southcentral Conference games

Grace Christian boys basketball coach Chuck Boerger spent his last game in the Nikiski High School gym as a coach watching his team dismantle the Bulldogs in a 92-41 victory Saturday.


Boerger was briefly recognized pregame by Nikiski boys coach Reid Kornstad, who said it was a good sendoff for the coach.

“We always enjoy seeing each other and our teams compete, but he’s as classy as they come,” Kornstad said. “He’s as high a quality coach as there is. It meant a lot to me, and I’ve grown as a coach just knowing him.”

Boerger is coaching his final season, and while he still faces a lot of games before the end of the season in March, Saturday night’s game was his last in the Nikiski gym.

“I’ve been here for a lot of games,” Boerger said. “I always like playing here, I love the coaching staff in Nikiski, so we’re best friends. We play hard on the floor, but that’s basically it. Whatever happens, happens.”

The game itself was a foregone conclusion by the early minutes of the third quarter. With Grace threatening to hit the century mark for points, a running clock was established early in the fourth quarter.

“We don’t normally score that many points,” Boerger said. “In fact, I can’t remember when we scored that many points. It doesn’t happen much.

“The important thing is we played hard and took good shots.”

Nikiski was dogged by sloppy ballhandling, which led to turnovers, and offensive rebounds from Grace that led to second-chance opportunities. The Bulldogs trailed the Grizzlies 28-17 after one quarter, but a determined full-court press from Grace only extended the lead even more. Nikiski managed only 24 points in the last three quarters combined.

“We were taking quick shots and then (Grace) would capitalize on their offensive transition,” Kornstad said. “Their defense is so good that it also makes it difficult to execute. It was a good wakeup call for us to learn what it takes to compete in this league.”

The Grizzlies led 77-35 after three quarters, and with consecutive 3-pointers from Hans Karlberg with more than five minutes remaining, it looked like 100 points were within reach.

Karlberg and teammate Eric Johnson led all scorers with 20 points each. Grace had four players in double figures, also getting 17 from Luke Offord and 11 from Trevor Osborne. Seth Carstens led Nikiski’s effort with 19 points.

The game was the opening Southcentral Conference matchup of the season for both squads, and Grace improved its overall mark to 2-2, while Nikiski dropped to 1-5 overall.

Nikiski girls 55, Grace 33

The girls game earlier in the day looked quite similar to the boys, except it was Nikiski grabbing the win in the opening conference matchup for both teams.

Junior Rachel Thompson led the Bulldogs with 17 points — much of which was due to her 9-for-12 free throw shooting — and teammate Emily Lynch added 11.

“Our confidence went up,” Thompson said. “Our coach kind of got on us to play harder. Our confidence went up when we started working harder, because they were outworking us at first.”

A meager first quarter for Nikiski ended with Grace leading 11-3, but the Bulldogs quickly began to reel them in with a full-court press that hardly gave the Grizzlies a shot at scoring.

“We weren’t shooting to score, we were shooting not to miss,” Thompson said about the early minutes. “We were forcing things and turning it over inside.”

Nikiski took the lead on a Thompson free throw midway through the second half, leading to a 19-15 lead at halftime. Overall in the second quarter, Nikiski outscored the Grizzlies 16-4.

Grace attempted to take back control of the game in the early minutes of the third quarter, but never got within three points of the Bulldogs and trailed 37-23 by the end of the third.

“We got to learn how to play a full 32 minutes,” said Nikiski coach Scott Anderson. “That’s the thing about Grace, they shot well and played aggressively in the first quarter, and we talked about getting off to a fast start but the kids were really determined to get back into it.”

Anderson noted that the pressure his team put on Grace worked well, but when Nikiski is eventually faced with more daunting opposition, his squad must learn to execute the fundamentals.

“We can’t rely on that because there’ll be teams that can handle that,” Anderson said. “We got to learn to play games in the half-court as well, where we need to be more patient.”

Nikiski improved its season record to 3-2 overall with the win (1-0 in SC).


Saturday girls

Bulldogs 55, Grizzlies 33

Nikiski 3 16 18 18 —55

Grace 11 4 8 10 —33

NIKISKI (55) — Thompson 3 9-12 17, Riddall 0 0-0 0, Cook 2 0-0 4, Costello 3 1-2 7, Litke 4 0-1 8, Lynch 3 5-11 11, Litzen 0 0-0 0, Darch 3 2-4 8. Totals 18 17-30 55.

GRACE (33) — Shamburger 5 0-0 10, Dunagan 2 0-0 4, VanderWeide 1 2-2 4, Hagen 0 2-4 2, Baird 0 0-0 0, Hogan 2 0-2 5, Logan 3 2-3 8, Laker 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 6-11 33.

3-point field goals — Nikiski 2 (Thompson 2); Grace 1 (Hogan 1).

Team fouls — Nikiski 12; Grace 18.


Saturday boys

Grizzlies 92, Bulldogs 41

Grace 28 21 28 15 —92

Nikiski 17 9 9 6 —41

GRACE (92) — Karlberg 9 0-2 20, Johnson 7 2-4 20, Osborne 5 0-0 11, Strand 1 0-0 2, Offord 7 1-2 17, Winkle 4 0-0 8, Ackerman 0 1-2 1, VanderWeide 2 0-0 4, Fancher 1 4-4 7, Laker 1 0-0 2. Totals 37 8-14 92.

NIKISKI (41) — Carstens 8 2-5 19, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Johnson 4 0-1 8, Castro 0 0-0 0, Holloway 2 0-1 5, Malston 0 0-0 0, Riddall 1 0-0 2, Jackson 2 0-0 4, Pamplin 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 3-9 41.

3-point field goals — Grace 10 (Johnson 4, Karlberg 2, Offord 2, Osborne 1, Fancher 1); Nikiski 2 (Holloway 1, Carstens 1).

Team fouls — Grace 10; Nikiski 10.


Fri, 05/25/2018 - 00:25

Nos. 2, 3 seeds lose in Southcentral baseball’s first round

The Nos. 2 and 3 seeds went down in the first round Thursday as chaos reigned at the Southcentral Conference baseball tournament in Homer.

Read more
Fri, 05/25/2018 - 00:25

Homer, Kodiak softball gain NLC semis

The first day of the Northern Lights Conference tournament in Kodiak saw a lot of rain and saw Homer and Kodiak advance to the semifinals.... Read more

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 00:25

Track teams ready to strut their best at state

The Soldotna and Homer girls track and field programs have a lot to be happy about after securing team championships in their respective region meets... Read more