The Kenai Central girls hoops team regularly flaunts a stingy defense, but Saturday at Kenai Central High School, it was the Dimond Lynx flaunting their defensive prowess.
The Lynx beat the Kardinals 50-21 in a nonconference matchup one day after succumbing to Soldotna, and the win was extra special for Dimond coach Jim Young, a Kenai alumni.
“We’re very fortunate with our program, we get invited to a lot of games, and I always like to come back to Kenai,” Young said. “I think it’s just great for us to get the opportunity to come down here and play. Good coaches win games but great coaches give kids chances to play.”
The loss drops Kenai to a 4-3 season record.
Young, a 1984 Kenai graduate, said Friday’s 56-51 loss to Soldotna left his team feeling down, and the low energy level was evident in the early minutes of Saturday’s matchup.
“I don’t like to make a lot of excuses for my girls in this program, but you could tell that the first quarter and a half, we were just flat,” Young said. “The Soldotna game, that was a great game, and it kind of took the energy out of us.”
Even though the Lynx started the game with a 14-0 edge, the Kenai defense continued to disrupt Dimond’s offensive game, leaving the visitors with only 15 points with less than 90 seconds to play in the first half.
“We’re really a team of runs,” Young said. “We had some points at the end of the first half that really helped put the game away.”
After Kenai found a short 6-1 spurt that put it within nine points of Dimond late in the first half, but Dimond quickly padded its lead with three straight layups from Dejha Canty and Rohyn Huss in the final minute that left the Lynx with a 23-6 halftime lead.
Huss led Dimond with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Canty had nine points. Tara Thompson also added nine points for the Lynx.
Senior Justice English had five points and seven boards to lead Kenai’s effort.
Dimond continued to open up its lead by outscoring Kenai 10-5 in the third quarter and 17-10 in the fourth.
“It was like a domino effect,” said Kenai coach Stacia Rustad. “We came out flat, we played flat, and the score indicated that.
“They have multiple offensive threats, so it’s hard to kind of focus on one or two when they have three or four, so it kind of spreads us thin.”
The biggest advantage that Dimond enjoyed was forcing turnovers and getting additional opportunities to score. Dimond had 57 shot attempts (hitting 19) while Kenai only found 42 shots, only making seven of them. Offensive rebounds resulted in Dimond outscoring Kenai 12-2 on second-chance points, and the Lynx managed to score 19 points off Kenai turnovers.
“Quite frankly, tonight, we struggled in every aspect of the game, even the ones we usually do well in,” Rustad said. “Everyone did get in the game, even the reserve players that usually don’t get varsity minutes, so that was a positive.”
The Kards will face Northern Lights Conference rival Soldotna on Tuesday at home.
Lynx 50, Kardinals 21
Dimond 11 12 10 17 —50
Kenai 0 6 5 10 —21
DIMOND (50) — Huss 5 1-2 11, Abello 1 1-2 3, Tufaga 0 0-0 0, Martinez 1 0-0 2, Thompson 3 2-2 9, Allen 1 1-1 3, Canty 4 1-2 9, Anderson 2 3-3 7, Forrey 2 2-3 6. Totals 19 11-15 50.
KENAI (21) — English 2 1-2 5, Ostrander 0 1-2 1, Drury 2 0-0 4, A. Steinbeck 0 0-0 0, Creighton 1 2-4 4, Baker 0 1-2 1, C. Steinbeck 1 0-1 2, Barcus 1 0-0 2, Beck 0 2-4 2, Every 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 7-15 21.
3-point field goals — Dimond 1 (Thompson 1); Kenai 0.
Team fouls — Dimond 16; Kenai 16.