Nikolaevsk boys 60, Noatak 52
The Warriors staved off elimination in the Class 1A consolation bracket Monday night at West High School with a gutsy fourth-quarter effort to top Noatak, advancing into the semifinal round.
Nikolaevsk will play St. Mary’s-Akiachak at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at West.
Trailing by five points heading into the fourth quarter, the Peninsula Conference runner-ups found help from freshman Nikit Fefelov, who hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter that put Nikolaevsk right on Noatak’s doorstep.
Fefelov’s shots paved the way for the Warriors to take the lead, as they outscored Noatak 21-8 in the fourth quarter.
“I was thrilled with how the kids finished the game,” said Nikolaevsk coach Steve Klaich. “It was an excellent effort on them. There were times when things were looking bleak, they were giving up inside shots and getting beat on the boards badly, but when it came to the fourth quarter, they really picked it up.”
Jaruby Nelson and Anthony Yakunin combined to hit all of the last six free throws that iced the game in the final 49 seconds.
“Jaruby had a monster game,” Klaich said. “He was phenomenal.”
Nelson led Nikolaevsk with 26 points, including six 3s, and had nine points in the fourth quarter. Fefelov added 14 as well.
Klaich said recent memories of the Peninsula Conference second-place game, which Nikolaevsk rallied to win over CIA, helped boost the Warriors in Monday’s game.
“We were there last week,” Klaich said. “It was a mirror image game. Two very competitive teams playing their hardest, any team could’ve won, and we had a run at the right time.”
Nikolaevsk took a 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, but fell victim to an 8-0 run that Noatak put up to close the first half. Nikolaevsk led 34-32 at halftime.
Nelson hit four treys en route to 14 first-half points, but Nikolaevsk was generally finding it hard to grab rebounds, which led to second-chance points for Noatak.
“I think we were doing a little too much watching,” Klaich said. “Instead of boxing out and then going after the ball. When it came down to the fourth quarter, they picked it up and started getting back to the fundamentals.”
With a player like Ralph Stalker Jr. leading the way for Noatak with 22 points, the Lynx continued to slice their way into the paint and nullified a number of Nikolaevsk charges.
After three quarters, Nikolaevsk trailed 44-39.
“There was a period of time when we weren’t rebounding well and everybody was looking for Jaruby to do everything,” Klaich said. “I kept telling them during timeouts to trust their own game, that they could score and be a factor too.”
Klaich briefly took Nelson out of the game at the end of the third quarter and early fourth quarter after he injured his shoulder, and his team responded.
“I think that helped the other kids realize, we can play ourselves,” Klaich said. “They realized they don’t have to look for Jaruby for every shot, and they finished the game as a team.”
Fefelov nailed straight 3s to close the deficit to a point with 4:39 remaining. Just 32 seconds later, Jonah Fefelov took advantage of a Noatak offensive foul to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup that put Nikolaevsk ahead 49-48.
Stalker Jr. sunk a jump shot with 3:35 left to give Noatak the lead again, but Nelson answered with a trey that put the Warriors ahead for good.
Stalker Jr. tied the game up with a layup with two minutes left, but after another Noatak offensive foul, Nelson responded with a fadeaway jumper with 1:16 to go that put Nikolaevsk up 54-52. From there, Nikolaevsk iced the game with free throws.
Warriors 60, Lynx 52
Nikolaevsk 14 20 5 21 —60
Noatak 10 22 12 8 —52
NIKOLAEVSK (60) — Nelson 8 4-4 26, Trail 0 0-0 0, Yakunin 1 2-2 4, N. Fefelov 5 1-1 14, Gordeev 3 0-0 6, Molodih 1 0-2 2, J. Fefelov 4 0-3 8. Totals 22 7-12 60.
NOATAK (52) — Sherman 1 0-0 2, Arey 3 0-0 7, VanAmburg 0 0-0 0, Luther 2 2-2 6, Adams Jr. 1 0-0 2, Wesley 5 3-3 13, Stalker Jr. 10 2-3 22. Totals 22 7-8 52.
3-point field goals — Nikolaevsk 9 (Nelson 6, N. Fefelov 3); Noatak 1 (Arey 1). Team fouls — Nikolaevsk 8; Noatak 13. Fouled out — Stalker Jr.