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SoHi girls top Warriors; Wasilla takes boys game in OT

Posted: February 22, 2014 - 11:56pm
Soldotna's Daniel McElroy attempts a floater over Colony's Damien Fulp, Saturday at Soldotna High School. The Stars lost 65-43.
Soldotna's Daniel McElroy attempts a floater over Colony's Damien Fulp, Saturday at Soldotna High School. The Stars lost 65-43.

Both the Soldotna girls and Wasilla boys used defensive grit to wrap up Northern Lights Conference victories Friday at Soldotna High School.

The SoHi girls improved to 15-4 overall and 6-2 in the league by topping the Warriors (10-8, 2-4) 46-31. It was Soldotna’s third win in four games against the Warriors.

The Wasilla boys moved to 4-2 in conference with a 46-41 overtime victory against the Stars (4-4). That means a sweep of the regular-season series for the Warriors.

The SoHi girls came into this week having dropped four of their last five games. The Stars rebounded by beating Palmer on Wednesday and then Wasilla on Friday.

Soldotna coach Doug Blossom said part of the problem during the tough stretch is when his squad ran into rough patches of shooting, it would affect other areas of the game.

“Teams have ups and downs, and we may have struggled a bit at the Dimond tournament and Kodiak, but we got back to playing good defense against Palmer, and tonight we played defense even better,” Blossom said.

One of SoHi’s four losses came to the Warriors, but SoHi was without Makayla Wong in that game. Spearheaded by the defensive stopper, SoHi held the Warriors to 31 points.

“Sometimes my kids go 100 miles per hour, and don’t slow things down and allow anything to set up,” Wasilla coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax said. “But those five kids that they have, as well as the two subs, have always played good pressure defense on the ball.”

That defense, along with offensive rebounding, allowed the Stars to survive a third quarter where they were 1 of 10 from the floor. Eighteen of SoHi’s 38 rebounds were on the offensive end and seven different players collected rebounds for the Stars.

“We had them for 13 offensive rebounds in the second half, and 12 of them probably resulted in points,” Hebert-Truax said.

Katelynn Kerkvliet led with 14 points and 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

“I was happy with the team effort,” Blossom said. “I thought there was great energy by everyone on the team.”

Blossom said the best spurts of energy came at the end of the second and fourth quarters. Over the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third, SoHi went on a 10-2 run that ended when a Kerkvliet foul shot made it 31-19 with 6:00 left in the third quarter.

With SoHi’s defensive intensity and mounting foul problems that would end with Shayla Johnson, Machia Toews and Amanda Hutchins fouling out, Wasilla would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

“Kelci Benson and Julie Litchfield did a great job of taking care of the ball in the second half,” Blossom said. “We only had four turnovers in the second half.”

Litchfield added 12 points for the Stars, while McKenna Dinkel paced Wasilla with 11.

Wasilla boys 46,
Soldotna 41, OT

How did the Warriors get just six points from their offensive mainstays and score 38 points in regulation and still manage to pull out a conference win on the road?

Play great defense and get unexpected contributions from a couple of rising stars.

With Cameron Brown out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion after scoring two points, and Alex Baham scoring just four due to foul trouble, freshmen Isaac Houck and Koby Burns filled the void.

Burns had six of his eight points in the second half, while Houck scored nine in the second half and five in overtime for his 14 points.

While SoHi coach Matt Johnson made it clear after the game he was not pleased with his squad’s assertiveness in the second half, he did give credit to Burns and Houck for stepping up. He said SoHi’s defensive plan was to challenge those two to make shots, and they were up to the challenge.

Wasilla coach Ryan Engebretsen, who also got 10 points from Emillio Carney, said he didn’t necessarily envision the big offensive roles for the freshmen headed into Friday, but their work ethic means bigger roles are to come.

“On Sunday, those are the first two kids to call us and ask if they can get into the gym,” Engebretsen said.

In the first half, Wasilla was 7 of 26 from the floor and scored just 16 points. SoHi’s defense, backstopped by big man Daniel McElroy, kept Wasilla from any good looks in the paint.

“On defense, he is such a presence,” Johnson said. “And he’s everything when it comes to defensive rebounding. He cleans up so much in there.”

But Wasilla only trailed 22-16 at halftime thanks to a scrappy defense led by Stone Krueger and Burns.

“Stone Krueger was an absolute beast taking three charges and giving us some great momentum,” Engebretsen said. “And we put 44 (Burns) out on the big man and he didn’t play scared at all.”

In the third quarter, Wasilla hit 3 of 6 from 3-point land to get back in the game and trail 28-27 heading into the final quarter.

“In the second half, I thought we gave them too many good looks,” Johnson said. “In the second half, on both ends, I thought we were passive and a bit timid.”

Even with McElroy in foul trouble, the Stars kept the game tight throughout the fourth quarter as neither team got more than a possession advantage.

SoHi had the ball last and, after a timeout with 23 seconds, Colton Young missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“It was poor execution,” Johnson said. “I think we had something drawn up that would have given us a good look. Two kids missed assignments and we settled for a long 3.”

On the first possession of overtime, McElroy exited after an offensive foul. Wasilla quickly took advantage, scoring on layups the next three possessions for a 44-41 lead with 1:18 to play. The Stars would not score the rest of the game.

“That opened up the floor and we were able to make a couple of plays,” Engebretsen said.

McElroy had 11 for SoHi, while Young and Austin Kruse each had 10.

Colony boys 65, Soldotna 43

The Knights notched an NLC win Saturday.

Graham Dinkel had 13 points for Colony, while Bailey West, Anton Chamblee and Damien Fulp each had 12.

For Soldotna, Daniel McElroy had 13, while Austin Kruse had 10.

Colony girls 33, Soldotna 29

The visiting Knights avenged a double-overtime loss to the Stars earlier this season with a victory Saturday.

Faith Farris had 14 points for the Knights, while Izzy Tweed had 10.

Friday girls

Stars 46, Warriors 31

Wasilla 11 8 4 8 —31

Soldotna 12 15 4 15 —46

WASILLA (31) — Kelly 0 0-2 0, LaBuda 0 0-0 0, Heath 0 1-2 1, Johnson 1 3-6 6, Baham 0 0-0 0, Lindeman 0 0-0 0, Pickworth 0 0-0 0, Toews 0 0-0 0, Hutchins 4 0-0 8, Dinkel 3 4-6 11, Edwards 2 1-2 5. Totals — 11 9-18 31.

SOLDOTNA (46) — Benson 0 2-4 2, Shaw 0 0-0 0, Litchfield 4 4-8 12, M. Wong 3 2-2 8, L. Wong 2 0-2 4, Hendricks 0 2-2 2, Kerkvliet 5 4-7 14, Miller 2 0-4 4. Totals — 16 14-29 46.

3-point goals — Wasilla 2 (Johnson, Dinkel). Team fouls — Wasilla 24, Soldotna 18. Fouled out — Johnson, Toews, Hutchins.

Friday boys

Warriors 46, Stars 41, OT

Wasilla 7 9 11 11 8 —46

Soldotna 12 10 6 10 3 —41

WASILLA (46) — Lee 0 0-0 0, Brown 1 0-0 2, Carney 4 0-0 10, Krueger 1 4-10 6, Baham 2 0-1 4, Garnett 0 0-0 0, McGregor 1 0-0 2, Houck 5 3-6 14, Burns 3 0-0 8. Totals — 17 7-17 46.

SOLDOTNA (41) — Calloway 0 0-0 0, Young 3 2-2 10, Conradi 3 0-2 6, Furlong 0 0-0 0, Spence 0 4-4 4, Kruse 2 4-6 10, Fowler 0 0-0 0, McElroy 5 1-2 11.

3-point goals — Wasilla 5 (Carney 2, Burns 2, Houck); Soldotna 4 (Young 2, Kruse 2). Team fouls — Wasilla 17, Soldotna 20. Fouled out — Baham, McElroy.

Saturday boys

Knights 65, Stars 43

Colony 17 18 16 14 —65

Soldotna 12 12 7 12 —43

COLONY (65) — Haire 1 0-0 2, Looney 1 0-0 2, West 5 0-1 12, Chamblee 5 0-0 12, Fulp 4 3-3 12, Menard 0 0-0 0, Sesson 1 0-0 2, Dinkel 5 3-7 13, Reed 0 0-0 0, Nygard 1 0-0 2, Sonnenberg 1 0-0 2, Bush 2 2-2 6. Totals — 26 8-13 65.

SOLDOTNA (43) — Calloway 0 0-0 0, Kuntz 0 0-0 0, Young 0 0-0 0, Conradi 2 4-6 8, Phillips 0 0-0 0, Furlong 2 0-2 5, Spence 0 5-6 5, Kruse 3 3-4 10, Gibbs 0 0-0 0, Fowler 0 2-4 2, McElroy 4 5-8 13, Trammel 0 0-0 0. Totals — 11 19-30 43.

3-point goals — Colony 5 (West 2, Chamblee 2, Fulp); Soldotna 2 (Furlong, Kruse). Team fouls — Colony 21, Soldotna 16. Fouled out — Sonnenberg.

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