State 1A hoops girls roundup

The Ninilchik girls made it to Saturday, but their season ended in a 49-42 loss to Aniak in the Class 1A state tournament fourth-place game at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. The Wolverines finished sixth among the 16-team field.

 

In an early-morning matchup, the Wolverines struggled from the get-go as Aniak built up a quick 7-0 lead and a late-game rally fell short for Ninilchik.

“We struggled getting defensive stops in the end,” said first-year head coach Josh Demlow. “Aniak is fast, and we struggled with their foot speed.”

Shauna Koonuk fueled the Halfbreeds with 19 points, while sophomore DeeAnn White led Ninilchik with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Olivia Delgado contributed 10 points and seven boards for Ninilchik.

The Wolverines are expected to return most of the current core next year, giving Demlow hope of a return to the tournament.

But Saturday belonged to the lone graduating senior, Mikayla Clark, who will leave a noticeable gap in the Ninilchik lineup. Clark made her final varsity start of her prep career Saturday and scored seven points with five rebounds.

“I definitely wanted to leave everything out there today,” Clark said.

Clark said she will never forget the experiences that playing at Ninilchik taught her, including the road games that helped her see other places like far-off Unalakleet. Winning the 2016 Peninsula Conference championship was one of the top highlights of her four-year career, which saw her begin to get starting time as a junior.

She said the reality of finishing her prep career began to set in shortly after the final buzzer, but as a true competitor, her thoughts turned to the remaining girls that will be gunning for another shot at a state title last year.

“Madi Cooper is just a freshman, she could be a force next year, and Mikylah Pinnow will be good,” Clark said. “We’ve been teaching them the right things.”

In Saturday’s game, turnovers proved to be costly for Ninilchik, which committed 21 to Aniak’s seven.

A layup from Clark with just seconds on the clock in the first half led to a 23-17 halftime deficit for the Wolverines.

Ninilchik fought back in the third quarter with an improved rebounding effort, leading to second-chance buckets and transition opportunities. A layup by Delgado cut Aniak’s lead to 33-28 with 2:04 left in the quarter, which ended with Aniak on top 35-30.

White started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, but it was answered with a trey from Aniak. White connected on another triple with 2:50 to go that cut the lead to 42-38, but Ninilchik fouled on the next two possessions, resulting in 2 of 4 made free throws for the Halfbreeds.

Delgado breathed life into Ninilchik with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 54 seconds remaining, reducing Aniak’s advantage to 44-42, but a floater by Kayla Morgan on the ensuing Aniak possession sucked the life right back out of the Wolverines, who had to start fouling.

Demlow said after all was said and done, he was proud of how his team pulled together in a season that nearly finished in a second straight conference title and a deep state run.

“I guess we just need to hold more morning practices next year,” he said.

Aniak girls 57, Nikolaevsk 44

The dance ended for the Nikolaevsk girls Friday morning in a consolation bracket loss to Aniak at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

The Warriors, who have a habit of finishing a season strong, faced foul trouble against the Halfbreeds, who hit 13 of 17 shots from the charity stripe. Nikolaevsk finished 6 for 13 from the stripe.

Warriors coach Bea Klaich praised her team’s season-long effort, saying that their youth and inexperience did not make it easy against the second- and third-seeded teams in the state.

“We always come to win, but my players said honestly at the beginning of the year, we didn’t think we’d make it to state,” Klaich said.

Nikolaevsk lost to No. 3 King Cove on Thursday, dropping the Warriors into Friday’s game against No. 2 Aniak, which was upset in the first round on Wednesday.

“We ran into some tough teams,” Klaich admitted. “But I would rather have games like that, that are a reality check, to help us next year.”

As four season-ending victories in the last five years will attest, the Warriors came ready to play. The only other time the Warriors capped a state tournament with a loss was the 2013 Class 1A state title game, when peninsula rival Cook Inlet Academy edged Nikolaevsk 43-39 in triple overtime.

Nikolaevsk’s lone senior, Vera Fefelov, capped her high school career with a dandy, scoring a team-high 18 points. Klaich said Fefelov was playing sick Friday with nauseousness.

Freshmen Markiana Yakunin and Elizabeth Fefelov served notice that the Warriors’ future is bright, scoring 10 and eight points, respectively. Fefelov also grabbed 12 rebounds, and Kristin Klaich had 11 boards.

Aniak’s top scoring threat Shauna Koonuk toasted the Warriors with 26 points, including 8 of 10 free-throw attempts, and grabbed seven steals. Alyssa Morgan also chipped in 11 points and nine boards.

Consecutive buckets by Yakunin put Nikolaevsk ahead 18-15, but Aniak closed the first half on a 10-2 run to forge a 25-20 halftime lead.

After an off-the-glass jumper by Klaich and a bucket by Elizabeth Fefelov to start the third quarter, Nikolaevsk trailed by a point, but Koonuk pushed the gap back out with several steals and fast-break layups. By the 1:25 mark of the third quarter, Aniak led 42-30.

Chelsea Johnson knocked down consecutive shots to cut Aniak’s lead to 46-39 with five minutes to play, but two free throws combined with a corner 3 by Miranda Peterson put the Halfbreeds up 51-39 with 4:17 left.

Ninilchik girls 32, Klawock 21

A Friday morning victory helped the Wolverines stave off elimination and advance into the state tournament fourth-place game.

Junior guard Olivia Delgado fueled Ninilchik with 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and hit 5 of 10 free throws. Sophomore DeeAnn White scored 10 points and senior Mikayla Clark brought down a team-high eight rebounds. Ninilchik won the battle on the glass with a 22-12 rebounding advantage.

The win advanced Ninilchik to Saturday morning’s fourth-place game against Aniak, the overall No. 2 seeded team.

After staking out a 13-11 halftime lead, the Wolverines shut down the Chieftans in the third quarter by outscoring them 4-0, then pulled away in the fourth quarter by outscoring Klawock 15-10.

Ninilchik struggled to find shots in the second half, but was quite effective by sinking 6 of 7 buckets overall for an 85 percent field-goal percentage.

Saturday girls

Halfbreeds 49, Wolverines 42

Ninilchik 10 7 13 12 — 42

Aniak 15 8 12 14 — 49

NINILCHIK (42) — Delgado 4 1-3 10, Kain 0 0-0 0, Kreger 0 0-0 0, Johnson 2 0-0 4, White 9 1-4 21, Cooper 0 0-0 0, Clark 3 1-4 7. Totals 18 3-11 42.

ANIAK (49) — P. Morgan 0 0-0 0, A. Morgan 2 4-6 10, Parka 0 0-0 0, Raymond 0 0-0 0, S. Morgan 0 0-0 0, Peterson 3 0-0 7, Koonuk 7 4-7 19, M. Peterson 2 1-2 5, Gregory 0 0-0 0, K. Morgan 4 0-1 8. Totals 18 9-16 49.

3-point goals — Ninilchik 3 (White 2, Delgado 1); Aniak 4 (A. Morgan 2, Peterson 1, Koonuk 1).

Team fouls — Ninilchik 13; Aniak 18. Fouled out — Peterson.

Friday girls

Halfbreeds 57, Warriors 44

Nikolaevsk 11 9 14 10 — 44

Aniak 9 16 17 15 — 57

NIKOLAEVSK (44) — S. Klaich 0 0-0 0, K. Klaich 2 0-2 4, Yakunin 4 1-2 10, J. Fefelov 0 0-0 0, Johnson 2 0-0 4, E. Fefelov 3 2-4 8, V. Fefelov 6 3-5 18. Totals 17 6-13 44.

ANIAK (57) — Morgan 0 0-0 0, Morgan 4 3-5 11, Simeon 1 0-0 2, Parka 0 0-0 0, Raymond 0 0-0 0, Morgan 2 0-0 6, Peterson 1 0-0 2, Koonuk 8 8-10 26, Peterson 2 0-0 6, Gregory 0 0-0 0, Morgan 1 2-2 4. Totals 19 13-17 57.

3-point goals — Nikolaevsk 4 (V. Fefelov 3, Yakunin 1); Aniak 6 (Morgan 2, Koonuk 2, Peterson 2).

Team fouls — Nikolaevsk 13; Aniak 13. Fouled out — Peterson.

Wolverines 32, Chieftans 21

Ninilchik 6 7 4 15 — 32

Klawock 2 9 0 10 — 21

NINILCHIK (32) — Delgado 6 5-10 17, Kain 0 0-0 0, Kreger 0 0-0 0, Johnson 1 0-0 2, White 4 1-2 10, Cooper 0 0-0 0, Pinnow 0 0-0 0, Clark 0 3-4 3. Totals 11 9-16 32.

KLAWOCK (21) — Smith-Turpin 2 0-0 4, Smith-Turpin 3 0-0 6, Marvin 0 0-0 0, Borromeo 4 0-0 8, Isaacs 1 0-0 2, Edenshaw 0 1-2 1, Trout 0 0-0 0, Wylie 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 1-2 21.

3-point goals — Ninilchik 1 (White); Klawock 0.

Team fouls — Ninilchik 3; Klawock 15. Fouled out — Marvin.

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