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Stars cagers sweep Kenai

Posted: January 21, 2014 - 11:59pm  |  Updated: January 22, 2014 - 12:26am

The Kenai-Soldotna sports rivalry had another chapter written in its long history Tuesday night at the Kenai Central High School gym, as the Soldotna girls hoops team scored a 49-36 victory over their Northern Lights Conference rivals.

The win keeps SoHi’s unbeaten season alive at 10-0, and sets the Stars up for a Friday night tussle with the 2-4 Colony Knights (2-1 against Alaska teams).

Soldotna coach Doug Blossom said his team will need to improve on one thing in preparing for Colony.

“Defense,” he said. “Colony has two guards, and it’s the same thing as with Kenai. We can’t let one or two players score too many points.”

On Tuesday, it was a fast start and good shooting that propelled the Kardinals to an 11-6 lead late in the first quarter. From the get-go, Kenai seniors Justice English and Caitie Steinbeck found the net for easy points that were allowed by Soldotna defenders leaving open space in front of the basket.

“I would say our defense wasn’t where it should be at,” Blossom said. “I don’t know how many points we let Justice (English) score, but we let her score way too many points coming off screens, and we’re better than that.”

English topped all scorers with 19 points — including 10 in the fourth quarter — while Soldotna senior Julie Litchfield notched 18 points for the Stars, and senior teammate Kelci Benson had nine points on a trio of 3s. The Kards’ defense held SoHi senior Katelynn Kerkvliet to only nine points.

It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter that the Stars took their first lead, when Makayla Wong hit two free throws with 4 minutes, 28 seconds, left. Soldotna took the lead for the final time with 1:17 remaining when Litchfield knocked down a jumper.

“They played us very well, I don’t want to take anything away from Kenai,” Blossom said. “But our defense didn’t play as good as we normally do.

“I thought at times, we picked it up and stretched it out, but then we’d back off and let them have too much breathing room.”

Soldotna stretched its lead in the third quarter to 35-20, putting up 14 points and holding Kenai to just five, but the Kards were not ready to leave just yet.

Led by English’s shooting, Kenai began forcing Soldotna into mistakes and turnovers, which limited their offensive opportunities. Kenai outscored SoHi 16-14 in the final quarter, and got as close as 41-31 with 2:52 remaining. English was also perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all five of her free throws.

“I think it’s like any game, anything can happen,” Blossom said. “I tell the girls, expect the unexpected.”

The deficit ultimately proved to be too great for the Kards, who dropped to 4-4 overall on the season, and will face the Kodiak Bears on Friday.

Soldotna boys 57, Kenai 28

The home team struggled to score early on in the boys matchup at Kenai Central High School, and the Stars pulled away in the third quarter to coast to a win Tuesday night.

The Kards only managed eight points in the first half, and matters weren’t helped in the third quarter when Soldotna outscored Kenai 26-7.

“I thought our effort, especially in the first half, was where it needs to be to win games,” said Soldotna coach Matt Johnson. “I don’t think we’re good enough to not give that kind of effort.”

Austin Kruse led all players with 14 points — sinking four 3s along the way — and teammate Daniel McElroy added 13. Kenai was led by Nate Saavedra with eight points, all in the fourth quarter once the game was out of reach.

With the win, Soldotna improved to 7-4 on the season, while Kenai dropped to 2-8. Johnson praised the seniors for leading the effort, most notably Max Conradi, Colton Young, Austin Kruse and Daniel McElroy.

“They really came out of the gates and set the tone defensively,” Johnson said. “They were going to work, and it created a lot of looks for us.”

After leading 9-4 after one quarter, the Stars took advantage of mistakes from Kenai, including a number of turnovers from freshman Josh Jackman. The mistakes led to a 10-0 scoring run in the final 3:35 that resulted in a 22-8 halftime lead.

“The reality is we got beat by a better team,” said Kenai coach Ken Felchle. “They’re faster, bigger and stronger. A more seasoned team with older kids.”

In the third quarter, things only got worse for Kenai. The Stars rode a 17-1 points streak in the first four minutes to a 30-point lead, aided by two big 3s from Kruse. Kruse also ended the quarter with a third trey just 33 seconds from the end.

“The good news about that first half is that we only gave up 22 points,” Felchle said.

Johnson said he will have his squad preparing for a Colony boys team that is viewed by many as one of the top teams in the state.

“That’s the goal, to keep building on what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “They’re good, and they’re well coached, so we’ll have our hands full for sure.”

CIA boys 68, Kodiak ESSS 40

The host Eagles notched a Peninsula Conference victory Tuesday to improve to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the league.

Timmy Smithwick paced all scorers with 35 points, while Mylon Weems pitched in 11 for the Eagles.

“I was disappointed in the fact that we gave up 40 points,” CIA coach Justin Franchino said. “Our defense wasn’t disciplined like it should have been, but as the game went on we picked up the intensity on defense and got the ball moving better, and that’s what made the difference in the game.”

Franchino added that he was impressed with Kodiak ESSS, which pulls from various schools in Kodiak and doesn’t get a lot of practice time together.

The Eagles host Wasilla Lake at 3 p.m. Friday.

Ninilchik boys 40, Kalskag 31

The host Wolverines got big games from a pair of freshmen to notch a nonconference win Tuesday.

Freshman Tyler Presley had 20 points to lead the Wolverines, while Austin White had 17.

Kalskag led 15-9 after one quarter, but Ninilchik tied it at 19 heading to halftime. The game was tied at 25 heading into the final eight minutes before Ninilchik pulled away.

 

Tuesday girls

Stars 49, Kards 36

Soldotna 9 12 14 14 —49

Kenai 13 2 5 16 —36

SOLDOTNA (49) — Nelson 0 0-0 0, Benson 3 0-0 9, Shaw 0 0-0 0, Litchfield 6 4-7 18, M. Wong 0 3-4 3, L. Wong 0 0-0 0, Hendricks 2 0-0 4, Kerkvliet 4 1-2 9, Miller 3 0-0 6. Totals 18 8-13 49.

KENAI (36) — Ostrander 1 0-1 3, English 6 5-5 19, Drury 0 0-0 0, A. Steinbeck 0 0-0 0, Creighton 0 0-0 0, Baker 0 0-0 0, C. Steinbeck 2 1-2 5, Barcus 3 0-0 6, Beck 0 1-2 1, Every 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 7-10 36.

3-point field goals — Soldotna 5 (Benson 3, Litchfield 2); Kenai 3 (English 2, Ostrander 1).

Team fouls — Soldotna 17; Kenai 14.

 

Tuesday boys

Stars 57, Kardinals 28

Soldotna 9 13 26 9 —57

Kenai 4 4 7 13 —28

SOLDOTNA (57) — Kruse 5 0-0 14, McElroy 5 3-4 13, Calloway 0 1-2 1, Kuntz 0 0-0 0, Young 2 0-0 4, Conradi 2 1-2 5, Phillips 0 0-0 0, Furlong 2 0-0 4, Spence 3 2-3 8, Fowler 3 1-2 7, Deatheridge 0 0-0 0, Trammell 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 9-15 57.

KENAI (28) — Theisen 2 1-2 5, Glushkov 0 0-0 0, Shirnberg 1 1-4 3, McKee 0 0-0 0, Brazell 0 0-0 0, Jackman 2 0-1 4, Saavedra 3 0-0 8, Ivy 1 0-2 3, Sepulveda 0 0-0 0, Beeson 0 0-0 0, Foree 0 0-0 0, Jones 2 0-0 5, Wortham 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 2-9 28.

3-point field goals — Soldotna 4 (Kruse 4); Kenai 4 (Saavedra 2, Ivy 1, Jones 1).

Team fouls — Soldotna 10; Kenai 13.

 

Eagles 68, Kodiak ESSS 40

Kodiak 6 12 11 11 —40

CIA 16 15 16 21 —68

KODIAK ESSS (40) — G. Nelson 5, Rest 7, Robo 2, E. Nelson 4, Elvehjem 3, Bennet 2, Bartellsun 17.

COOK INLET ACADEMY (68) — A. Hammond 2, Leaf 4, J. Solie 8, T. Smithwick 35, R. Solie 8, Weems 11.

3-point goals — Kodiak ESSS 3 (G. Nelson, Elvehjem, Bartellsun); CIA 5 (J. Solie 2, T. Smithwick 3).

Team fouls — Kodiak ESSS 11, CIA 12. Fouled out — none.

 

Wolverines 40, Grizzlies 31

Kalskag 15 4 6 6 —31

Ninilchik 9 10 6 15 —40

KALSKAG (31) — L. Levi 2 0-0 4, Samuelson 1 1-3 4, A. Hetherington 2 0-2 4, Holmberg 3 1-3 8, Davis 1 1-2 3, Hetherington 0 0-2 0, Kerr 4 0-1 8. Totals — 13 3-13 31.

NINILCHIK (40) — C. Appelhanz 0 0-0 0, Presley 7 6-10 20, Delgado 1 0-2 2, Bartolowits 0 0-0 0, Thorne 0 0-0 0, S. Appelhanz 0 1-2 1, White 6 5-8 17. Totals — 14 12-22 40.

3-point goals — Kalskag 2 (Samuelson, Holmberg). Team fouls — Kalskag 21, Ninilchik 19. Fouled out — Davis, Thorne.

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