Nikiski battles conference foe Grace Christian

While the Nikiski girls basketball squad flaunts an efficient offense, they would like you to know that their defense is tough too.

 

It was a stingy second-half defensive effort that carried the Bulldogs to a 44-26 Southcentral Conference victory Thursday night over Grace Christian at Nikiski High School, lifting Nikiski to 16-2 overall this year.

In the boys game, Grace Christian broke out in the third quarter to notch a 72-40 win over Nikiski.

Junior forward Bethany Carstens pumped in a game-high 26 points for Nikiski, while Emma Wik connected on three 3-pointers in the second half to finish with nine. Carstens had 14 points in the first quarter alone.

However, things were tight in the first half as Grace made up an early 10-point deficit to take a brief 15-14 lead, and kept it close by trailing 19-17 at halftime. Nikiski head coach Scott Anderson credited the Grizzlies for putting together a stout game plan and executing it to great effect.

“Our goal is to hold them to 30 points,” Anderson said. “If they hold them to under 30, our offense is good enough to handle that.”

With the doldrums of February starting to take hold of the basketball season, Anderson said it can be easy for good teams like Nikiski to have an off night.

“This is the time of the year when the energy can be low,” he said. “The girls came out looking a little tired.”

However, there wasn’t any lethargy coming from the Nikiski defense in the second half. Anderson credited the scrappy play of America Jeffreys, Rylee Jackson and Kaitlyn Johnson for forcing Grace into mistakes and turnovers, which naturally morphed into points on the offensive end of the court.

Grace got all its scoring from two players. Grace Salima paced the Grizzlies with 16 points and Tessa Binder had the other 10, all coming in the first half.

Grizzlies head coach Karen Tollefson said losing Colleen Gamez early hurt the team’s efforts. Gamez took a hit to the head in the first quarter and sat out the rest of the game.

“We lost our energy player,” she said. “We’re young and we’re growing, and we’re trying to build the momentum to become mature enough to know we can do it.”

Carstens scored seven of Nikiski’s first nine points coming out of the break, which translated to a 12-2 run in the third quarter, capped by a buzzer-beating triple by Wik. Wik added two more corner 3s in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

In the boys game, the Bulldogs stayed close in the first half, trailing 26-24 at halftime, but a two-handed dunk by Sylvanus Edi on the first possession of the third quarter sparked a 25-6 run that helped the Grizzlies distance themselves.

Edi finished with 18 points for Grace, while Tobin Karlberg led the way with 19, and Turner Goforth chipped in 12. Noah Litke led Nikiski with 16 points and Ian Johnson had 10. Jace Kornstad was held to five.

Grace moved to 16-6 overall this year, while Nikiski dropped to 6-12.

Grace took off on a 14-0 run to open the second half, highlighted by three treys from Goforth in a 1:15 span. Grizzlies head coach Jason Boerger said Goforth was able to benefit from the defensive attention paid to Karlberg, a former All-Tournament member at state.

“It was nice to get Turner a few 3s,” Boerger said. “Tobin gets a lot of looks, but when he gets help from his supporting cast it makes it easier on all of us.”

Litke helped Nikiski stay close in the first half with a barrage of shots from long range, using deft ball handling to open up space on the court for Kornstad and Cody Handley. Litke hit a trey and followed it up with a breakaway layup on the next possession to tie the game at 21-all with 4:17 left in the second quarter. Litke notched 11 points in the quarter, capped by a 3-pointer with 39 seconds remaining.

Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad said the Bulldogs were able to answer the Grizzlies’ nearly shot for shot in the first half, but seemingly lost the momentum in the second.

“We didn’t match their intensity,” Kornstad said. “If I knew how to fix it, I’d tell you.

“We had it in the first half. When they began exerting their will, we fought back, and we met that aggression and confidence.”

Consecutive 3s from Nathan Ivanoff and Jimmy McGovern in the final 2:18 of the third quarter essentially sealed the deal for Grace, which staked out a 51-30 lead after three.

Juneau-Douglas girls 57, Soldotna 36

The visiting Crimson Bears used tough defense to notch a nonconference win over the Stars.

Juneau held Soldotna to just 22 points in the first three quarters while scoring 40 to put the game out of reach.

For Juneau, Cassie Dzinich had 13 while Caitlyn Pusich had 12 and Alxyn Bohulano had 11. For SoHi, Danica Schmidt had 11.

Homer girls 43, Redington 31

The host Mariners notched a Southcentral Conference victory over the Huskies on Thursday.

Homer led 12-9 after a quarter and 19-11 at halftime en route to the victory.

Homer received nine points apiece from Grace Godfrey and Rylyn Todd. For Redington, Courtney Crockett had 13 points.

Homer boys 63, Redington 39

The host Mariners received 21 points from Jordan Beachy — all coming on 3-pointers — in picking up a Southcentral Conference win over the Huskies Thursday.

Charles Rohr added 11 for the Mariners.

Bristin Conaway had 14 points to lead the Huskies, while Brody Brooks added 10.

ACS boys 79, Seward 27

The visiting Lions rolled up a 30-8 first-quarter advantage en route to a Southcentral Conference victory.

Zen Petrosius paced the Seahawks with eight points.

The ACS girls also rolled, winning 73-25.

Soldotna JV girls 43, Nikolaevsk 39

The host Stars came back to claim a nonconference win over the Warriors on Thursday.

Nikolaevsk led 9-6 after a quarter and 20-17 at halftime. The Warriors still led 35-33 after the third quarter, but SoHi won the final quarter 10-4.

Drysta Crosby-Schneider had 14 points to pace the Stars. The scorers for Nikolaevsk were Elizabeth Fefelov and Markiana Yakuning with 12, Kristin Klaich with 11 and Justina Fefelov with four.

Soldotna JV boys 40, Nikolaevsk 37

The host Stars edged the Warriors in nonconference action.

SoHi led throughout at 16-10 after a quarter, 22-19 after two quarters and 35-26 after three quarters.

Mekhai Rich had 11 points to lead Soldotna.

For Nikolaevsk, Kalenik Molodih had 12 points, Sage Stanish had 10 points, Michael Trail had seven points and JD Mumey and Zachary Trail had four points apiece.

Cook Inlet Academy girls 24, Kenai C 17

The host Eagles took a 12-6 lead at the half and made it stand up in defeating the Kardinals on Thursday.

Adara Warren had 14 points to pace CIA, while Anna Cizek had eight and Breona Delon added two.

Wasilla Lake boys 52, CIA 25

The Rams cruised past the Eagles in Peninsula Conference action Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy.

Wasilla Lake led 16-2 after the first quarter and 27-10 at halftime. Hunter Moos paced the Eagles with nine points.

Thursday girls

Bulldogs 44, Grizzlies 26

Grace 7 10 2 7 —26

Nikiski 14 5 12 13 —44

GRACE CHRISTIAN (26) — Coronado 0 0-0 0, Binder 4 2-2 10, Markle 0 0-0 0, Osborne 0 0-0 0, Tanner 0 0-0 0, Salima 6 3-3 16, Annett 0 0-0 0, Gamez 0 0-0 0, Wood 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 5-5 26.

NIKISKI (44) — Jeffreys 0 0-0 0, Wik 3 0-0 9, L. Carstens 1 0-0 2, Bostic 1 0-2 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, B. Carstens 11 1-2 26, Epperheimer 0 0-0 0, Druesedow 1 0-0 2, Jackson 1 1-2 3. Totals 18 2-6 44.

3-point goals — Grace Christian 1 (Salima); Nikiski 6 (Wik 3, B. Carstens 3).

Team fouls — Grace Christian 6, Nikiski 11. Fouled out — none.

Mariners 43, Huskies 31

Redington 9 2 15 5 — 31

Homer 12 7 13 11 — 43

REDINGTON (31) — Koozaata 2 0-0 5, McGovern 0 0-0 0, Crockett 4 5-5 13, Aparezuk 2 0-0 5, Fuller 0 8-10 8, Lytle 0 0-0 0, Harris 0 0-0 0. Totals — 8 13-15 31.

HOMER (43) — Bales 0 0-0 0, A. Godfrey 1 2-2 4, Bishop 0 1-2 1, G. Godfrey 2 3-4 9, Doughty 2 1-2 5, Todd, 4 0-0 9, Parish 0 0-0 0, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Veldstra 2 2-4 7, Cole 1 5-6 7, Box 0 1-2 1. Totals — 12 15-22 43

3-point goals — Redington 2 (Koozaata, Aparezuk); Homer 2 (Todd, Veldstra). Team fouls — Redington 17, Homer 14. Fouled out — none.

Crimson Bears 57, Stars 36

Juneau 12 14 14 17 — 57

Soldotna 8 8 6 14 — 36

JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (57) — Tuckwood 2 0-0 4, Potter 3 3-6 9, Bohulano 4 4-5 11, J. Pusich 2 0-1 4, Dzinich 4 5-5 13, C. Pusich 6 0-0 12, Balovich 1 0-0 2. McAdams 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 12-17 57.

SOLDOTNA (36) — McGillivray 1 0-0 2, Miller 0 0-0 0, Blossom 3 0-0 7, A. Schmidt 4 1-5 9, Buckbee 0 0-0 0, Holland 0 0-0 0, Wurst 2 1-2 5, Crosby-Schneider 1 0-0 2, D. Schmidt 5 0-0 11. Totals — 16 2-7 36.

3-point goals — Juneau 1 (Bohulano); Soldotna 2 (Blossom, D. Schmidt). Team fouls — Juneau 8, Soldotna 17. Fouled out — none.

Thursday boys

Grizzlies 72, Bulldogs 40

Grace 17 9 25 21 —72

Nikiski 11 13 6 10 —40

GRACE CHRISTIAN (72) — Ivanoff 2 2-4 8, Kopp 0 0-0 0, Goforth 4 0-0 12, McGovern 3 0-0 8, McGovern 0 0-0 0, Karlberg 8 1-2 19, Harriman 2 1-2 5, Edi 8 2-2 18, Beck 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 6-10 72.

NIKISKI (40) — Johnson 4 2-3 10, Weathers 0-0 0, Ellis 1 2-2 5, Kornstad 2 0-0 5, T. Litke 0 0-0 0, Handley 2 0-0 4, N. Litke 6 0-0 16, Mysing 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 4-5 40.

3-point goals — Grace Christian 10 (Goforth 4, Ivanoff 2, McGovern 2, Karlberg 2); Nikiski 6 (N. Litke 4, Ellis 1, Kornstad 1).

Team fouls — Grace Christian 10; Nikiski 9. Fouled out — none.

Rams 52, Eagles 25

Wasilla Lake 16 11 19 6 — 52

CIA 2 8 6 9 — 25

WASILLA LAKE (52) — Cramer 3 0-0 7, Vinson 0 0-0 0, Cliver 1 0-0 2, Dean 0 0-0 0, Kurtz 7 2-2 17, Shepard 1 0-0 2, Auldridge 8 0-0 19, Keena 0 0-0 0, Roper 0 1-2 1, Waddell-Brown 2 0-0 4. Totals — 22 3-4 52.

COOK INLET ACADEMY (25) — Moos 4 0-4 9, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Cragg 3 1-2 8, Walsh 0 0-1 0, Boyd 2 0-2 4, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Leaf 1 0-0 2. Totals — 11 1-9 25.

3-point goals — Wasilla Lake 5 (Auldridge 3, Cramer, Kurtz); CIA 2 (Moos, Cragg). Team fouls — Wasilla Lake 8, CIA 3. Fouled out — none.

Mariners 63, Huskies 39

Redington 10 7 6 16 — 39

Homer 12 23 15 13 — 63

REDINGTON (39) — Falaniko 1 0-0 2, Straughn 1 0-0 2, Elliott 4 0-0 9, Amirault 1 0-0 2, Brooks 3 4-6 10, Rumfelt 0 0-0 0, Conaway 6 0-0 14, Long 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 4-6 39.

HOMER (63) — Rohr 5 1-4 11, C. Beachy 0 0-0 0, Etzwiler 3 0-0 8, Adkins 1 0-0 2, Reutov 0 0-0 0, Carroll 4 0-0 9, Anderson 2 0-0 4, Davis 4 0-0 8, J. Beachy 7 0-0 21, Swoboda 0 0-0 0. Totals — 26 1-4 63.

3-point goals — Redington 3 (Conaway 2, Elliott); Homer 10 (J. Beachy 7, Etzwiler 2, Carroll). Team fouls — Redington 7, Homer 7. Fouled out — none.

Lions 79, Seahawks 27

ACS 30 22 15 12 — 79

Seward 8 4 13 2 — 27

ANCHORAGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS (79) — Parks 4 1-2 9, Smallwood 0 2-2 2, Onochie 6 0-0 12, Davis 1 0-0 3, Cho 3 2-2 8, Guzman 3 2-3 8, Dickerson 2 0-0 5, Orzano 11 0-0 31, Smith 2 0-0 4. Totals — 32 7-9 79.

SEWARD (27) — Hollingsworth 1 0-0 2, Koster 0 0-0 0, Moriarity 1 0-0 2, S. Estes 0 0-0 0, C. Estes 2 0-0 4, Ingalls 1 0-2 2, Spanos 3 1-4 7, Pfeiffenberger 1 0-0 2, Jarvis 0 0-0 0, McMurry 0 0-0 0, Basalo 0 0-0 0, Petrosius 4 0-0 8. Totals — 13 1-7 27.

3-point goals — ACS 8 (Orzano 6, Dickerson, Davis) Team fouls — ACS 8, Seward 11. Fouled out — none.

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