Both the Nikiski girls and Skyview boys basketball teams will go into the Southcentral Conference tournament, starting Thursday in Cordova, on a roll.
The Nikiski girls topped the Panthers 41-21 to show they have thoroughly put a Monday loss to Homer in the rearview mirror, while the Skyview boys came back for a 62-59 overtime victory — the third straight triumph for the Panthers.
The Nikiski girls finish the regular season at 8-2 in the league and 18-4 overall.
One of the Bulldogs’ rare losses came in a 36-31 affair Monday at Homer. The Mariners got off to a hot start and Nikiski was not able to recover.
“It was a good lesson for our girls,” Nikiski coach Scott Anderson said. “We talked about how you have to go get it and play to win instead of playing not to lose.”
The Bulldogs responded by taking an 18-5 lead after the first half Friday in a 43-25 victory in Seward, then a 13-1 lead in Saturday’s win.
With four minutes left in the second quarter, Skyview’s Meghan Powers connected on a driving layup for her team’s first field goal and a 13-3 game.
“We put a lot of emphasis on our defensive game,” said Skyview coach Kyle McFall after his squad finished the regular season at 12-11 and 4-6. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve done a nice job on defense but offense has been an issue.”
McFall said his squad is not getting good shots, but rather panicky shots. He said the plan is to simplify things on offense so the Panthers can just focus on basketball.
The Bulldogs shot just 22 percent from the floor in the game, but were able to score more than enough to win thanks to points off of rebounds and turnovers.
“We shot 22 percent, but we were aggressive on offense and we rebounded well,” Anderson said. “So we were able to score 41 points despite shooting just 22 percent.”
Anderson said his team had 45 rebounds Saturday compared to 23 in the loss to Homer.
“They killed us on rebounds,” McFall said. “Our halfcourt defense was good until we got to the rebounding part.”
Alyssa Darch piled up 19 rebounds while also tying Rachel Thompson for the team scoring lead with 13 points.
Meghan Powers led the Panthers with eight points. Four of those points came in a 20-second spurt that cut Nikiski’s lead to 24-13 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
“One of our issues is we don’t have a lot of confident ballhandlers,” McFall said. “Meghan was able to get that going in the second half and everybody was able to play off that.”
McFall also said Jacy Rouse did a good job limiting the penetration of Thompson in the second half.
But Anderson was happy the Bulldogs were able to keep Skyview from getting any closer, then outscore the Panthers 9-2 in the final four minutes of the game.
“We’ve had trouble closing out games at times, but not tonight,” Anderson said.
Emily Lynch, Jodi Cook, Katie Costello and Darch were honored by the Bulldogs for senior night.
“I’m happy for the seniors and what they’ve done for the program for the past four years,” Anderson said.
Skyview boys 62, Nikiski 59, OT
The Panthers completed a sweep of the Southcentral Conference Southern Division in their last three games by coming back to nip the Bulldogs in overtime.
Skyview’s burst of solid play started with a 49-45 overtime victory over Seward on Tuesday, then the Panthers topped Homer 58-49 on Friday in the last basketball game at Skyview.
Skyview finishes at 4-6 in the league and 10-11 overall.
Skyview coach Jesse Settlemyer said the emotional win Friday may have hurt his squad early Saturday.
“We talked about getting one more and making it three straight going into regions, but physically and mentally we may have been a little drained,” Settlemyer said.
Nikiski’s Cade Anderson sparked an 8-0 first-quarter run with a pair of 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs a 10-4 lead with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
The scoring spurt showed improvement that made Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad proud despite the loss.
“The guys have been playing a lot better on offense and shooting a lot better,” said Kornstad, whose squad finished 1-9 in the league. “I’m proud of the way they’ve kept improving and having faith in us as coaches.
“That isn’t easy as the losses begin to mount.”
As the Bulldogs’ record would indicate, they haven’t gotten a lot of experience this season holding leads, but they were able hold a lead for nearly the whole game.
In the first quarter, the Panthers cut it to four, but Anderson hit a 3-ball at the 30-second mark to expand the lead.
In the second quarter, Skyview whittled the lead to three, but a Hunter Holloway 3-pointer with 2:03 left again gave breathing room.
In the third, Nikiski led by as much as 12 and as little as five, but went into the final quarter with a lead of seven.
In the fourth quarter, a layup by Nathan Carstens made it 47-38 with 4:53 left before Skyview started its final push.
“We started to run our offense better and move the ball better, and we executed a couple of set plays fairly well,” Settlemyer said.
The Panthers went on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 49 on a jumper by Micah Hilbish with 45 seconds left.
“Ball control,” Kornstad said, when asked the reason for the run. “When you are ahead with three and a half minutes to go, you have to be able to execute and make sure it’s a sure thing.
“We weren’t able to do that.”
After Hilbish’s equalizer, Nikiski was able hold for a last shot, but Anderson missed in the lane.
In overtime, Skyview started with three layups in a 6-2 run from which the Bulldogs would never recover.
“We can’t win taking a lot of jump shots,” Settlemyer said. “We need to be aggressive and get shots in the lane.”
The Bulldogs trailed 58-52 with 1:18 left, but managed to scratch and claw enough to get a potential game-tying 3 by Seth Carstens at the buzzer that just missed.
“Our execution in desperation-type situations at the end of the game was actually pretty good,” Kornstad said.
Michael Stangel and Seth Carstens were honored for senior night. Carstens had 17 despite battling foul trouble and the effects of a nasty fall he took in the third quarter.
Stangel had 11, while Anderson and Luke Johnson had 10 apiece.
For Skyview, Jacob Carlson had 11 of his 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Tim Duke added 16, while Hilbish had 13.
Bulldogs 41, Panthers 21
Skyview 0 7 6 8 —21
Nikiski 9 6 11 15 —41
SKYVIEW (21) — Powers 4 0-0 8, Ramsell 3 0-2 6, Mahan 1 0-0 2, Reynolds 1 0-0 2, Rouse 1 1-2 3, Glaves 0 0-0 0, Pyhala 0 0-0 0. Totals — 10 1-4 21.
NIKISKI (41) — Riddall 1 0-0 2, Cook 2 1-2 5, Costello 0 0-0 0, Litke 1 0-0 2, Lynch 2 2-2 6, Thompson 4 4-6 13, Parrish 0 0-0 0, Kornstad 0 0-0 0, Litzen 0 0-0 0, Darch 4 5-10 13. Totals — 14 12-20 41.
3-point goals — Nikiski 1 (Thompson). Team fouls — Skyview 12, Nikiski 9. Fouled out — none.
Panthers 62, Bulldogs 59, OT
Skyview 10 10 11 18 13 —62
Nikiski 16 11 11 11 10 —59
SKYVIEW (62) — Rice 0 0-0 0, Jones 2 0-3 4, Duke 6 4-6 16, Carlson 9 2-4 21, Cook 0 0-0 0, Kruse 0 0-0 0, Harley 3 2-2 8, Hilbish 6 1-3 13. Totals — 26 9-18 62.
NIKISKI (59) — Stangel 2 6-8 11, Anderson 3 1-2 10, Johnson 4 2-5 10, Holloway 2 2-2 7, Tauriainen 0 0-0 0, S. Carstens 6 5-8 17, N. Carstens 2 0-1 4, Riddall 0 0-0 0, Jackson 0 0-0 0.
3-point goals — Skyview 1 (Carlson); Nikiski 5 (Anderson 3, Stangel, Holloway). Team fouls — Skyview 21, Nikiski 17. Fouled out — Jones.