SoHi girls earn WPI berth to state

For the second year in a row, the Soldotna girls basketball team was announced Sunday as a Winning Percentage Index qualifier to the Class 4A state basketball tournament.

And this time that status as a qualifier should stay that way through Monday.

Last season, the Alaska School Activities Association announced the Stars were in the state tourney Sunday, only to discover a missing game and knock the Stars from the state tourney in favor of Lathrop on Monday.

“There’s a big enough spread that even if they made a slight mistake, it won’t be enough to change it this year,” Soldotna girls coach Doug Blossom said.

Six berths to the Class 4A state tournament are automatic berths given out at the conference tournaments. Then two berths are awarded to the next two highest WPI schools, which this year were Soldotna and Dimond.

The Stars finished seventh in the WPI and were able to qualify because the teams in front of them earned automatic berths at their conference tournaments.

“Last year, there were several upsets that threw a monkey wrench in things,” Blossom said. “This year, the top eight are all in.”

SoHi opens with West, which finished second in WPI, on March 20 at 7 p.m. at the Sullivan Arena.

The Stars built their strong WPI by winning their first 13 games, plus two endowment games.

SoHi has slowed lately, losing both games at the Northern Lights Conference tournament this weekend.

“Our shooting has affected the rest of our game to some degree,” Blossom said. “Now I can tell the girls the WPI is out the window, and wins and losses are out the window.

“Our record is 0-0 and it’s time to regroup and have some fun.”

The Stars have plenty of state experience, having made the tournament in three of the past four years.

“It’s obviously pretty special for them,” Blossom said. “I’m really happy for them.”

The other Peninsula schools that qualified for the state tournament also learned their spots in the bracket on Sunday.

The Nikiski girls, who finished second at the Southcentral Conference tournament, will open play in the Class 3A tourney with a 3:30 p.m. game March 20 at Sullivan Arena.

The Seward girls finished third in the Southcentral tourney and play ACS, which won the Southcentral tourney, at 5:15 p.m. March 20 at the Sullivan Arena.

The Peninsula also had four qualifiers to the Class 1A tourney. In that tourney, teams play a game Saturday to determine whether they are in the championship tourney or the consolation tourney.

On the girls side, Nikolaevsk plays Buckland on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at West in Anchorage, and Cook Inlet Academy plays Yakutat at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at West.

On the boys side, Seldovia plays Selawik at 8 a.m. Saturday at South, and Nikolaevsk plays Klawock at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at West.

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