NLC hoops: SoHi boys, Kenai girls lose semifinals

WASILLA — Colony used a team effort to ensure the Knights one of the two Northern Lights Conference teams with an automatic bid to the 4A state tournament.

 

“I thought we kind of got back to early in the season, true team basketball,” Colony head coach Tom Berg said after the Knights scored a 55-32 win over the Soldotna Stars during the NLC boys semifinals Friday afternoon at Wasilla High School. “We like our guys. I like how hard they work, how hard they played together.”

Fourth-seeded Soldotna, which saw its state chances end with the loss, managed only single digits in scoring in three of the four quarters, and Colony didn’t allow a SoHi bucket until about the midway point of both the third and the fourth.

“Defensively, trying to dig in. Those (Soldotna) guards are pretty good,” Berg said of the priority on that end of the floor. “We did a good job of containing them. They never really felt comfortable. We didn’t let them get going, get confident.”

In Saturday’s championship, the No. 1 Knights lost to No. 2 Wasilla in the title game 48-39.

Friday against SoHi, the Knights held the Stars to 12 of 32 shooting, 3 of 13 from beyond the arc.

In addition to his team’s work against the SoHi guards, Berg said the Knights also stepped up to combat Soldotna’s physical presence inside.

“They did a good job of being active,” Berg said.

Berg said the Knights also didn’t make many mistakes while playing physical, and didn’t give up easy points.

Berg said he also liked the team effort on the offensive side. Will Freeman and Colton Spencer scored 10 each. Jon Pomrenke chipped in nine. Patrick McMahon and Sullivan Menard added seven each.

“I thought the ball movement was really good,” Berg said.

Soldotna used a 10-point second quarter to pull within three possessions at halftime, but didn’t get its first basket of the third until Eli Sheridan’s jumper at the 4:10 mark. A Sam McElroy layup at the 4:20 mark of the fourth marked Soldotna’s first points of the fourth quarter.

Caleb Spence led Soldotna with 11 points in the loss. Jersey Truesdell and McElroy added six each.

With the win, Colony returns to the state tournament after falling short last season.

“I’m happy for these guys. They punched their ticket,” Berg said.

Wasilla girls 62, Kenai 36

WASILLA — After falling to rival Soldotna twice during the regular season, Kenai Central opened its region tournament with a stunning victory over the Stars.

Could the fifth-seeded Kards do the same against two-time defending state champion Wasilla? Kenai led 8-7 late in the first quarter, but the Warriors capped the first half on a 25-7 run and scored a 62-36 victory over the Kardinals during the Northern Lights Conference Championships girls semifinals Friday at Wasilla High School. Kenai’s chance of making it to state was ended with the loss.

“The first quarter we were good defensively, but it took us a while to settle in offensively,” Wasilla head coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax said after the win. “The second quarter we kind of took off a little bit.”

Senior Azlynn Brandenburg and junior Olivia Davies sparked the run, combining for six points during the final minute of the first quarter. Brandenburg completed a three-point play to give Wasilla the lead, and Davies followed with one of her two-three pointers in the game.

“Big thing, we were able to settle down, move the ball a little bit better and hit some shots,” Hebert-Truax said.

Wasilla capped the weekend by winning the NLC championship Saturday night 55-28 over Colony.

Hebert-Truax said the Warriors were also able to move the ball inside, and take advantage of their size advantage. Junior Cheyenne Green led the work inside, notching a double-double with a dozen points and 10 rebounds. Brandenburg led all scorers with 19. Jayce Calvert hit five threes for the Kards and led Kenai with 15 points.

Wasilla enjoyed the 19-point second quarter and ended the game strong with 18 points in the final frame. Hebert-Truax said the Warriors are still working on putting together a full 32 minutes consistently.

“Sometimes we lose our mental focus for periods of time. You can’t do that,” Hebert-Truax said.

Hebert-Truax added that regardless of how things are going on the offensive side, the goal is to never lose that focus on defense.

“We go up and down. The key is to make sure it’s offensively and not defensively,” Hebert-Truax said.

Part of that is Wasilla’s lack of practice time while at full strength. Key players have missed time throughout the 2017-18 season.

“Just having them playing well, playing well together. It’s really still a work in progress,” Hebert-Truax said. “Having that core group playing together, do some things, as opposed to ad-libbing it.”

Palmer boys 32, Soldotna 27

The Moose earned third-place honors in the boys NLC tournament with a Saturday afternoon victory over Soldotna, handing the Stars fourth place.

SoHi was led by Sam McElroy’s eight points, while Caleb Spence grabbed six rebounds. The Stars defense came through against Palmer senior and tournament MVP Clayton Southwick, who was held to seven points. Isaac Atkins led the Moose with 14.

Palmer steadily maintained a gap on SoHi throughout, as the Stars tied the game on several occasions but never led. Palmer took a 17-14 lead at halftime, then padded it to 24-20 at the end of the third before clinching the win with an 8-7 fourth-quarter effort. Palmer held SoHi to 1 for 8 shooting from 3-point land.

Palmer girls 53, Kenai 48

The Palmer girls made it a clean sweep of third place over the NLC tournament weekend with a Saturday win over Kenai, which finished fourth.

Brooke Satathite led the Kardinals with 14 points, 16 rebounds and five steals, while Lexy Carrasco added 10 points and Jaycie Calvert and Hayley Maw both chipped in nine.

Kenai enjoyed a fast start, getting out to a 19-12 lead in the first quarter, but had letdowns in the second and fourth quarters. The Kards outscored the Moose a combined 31-20 in the first and third quarters, but Palmer won the second and fourth frames by a combined 33-17.

Kenai rallied from a 32-28 halftime deficit to tie the game at 40 apiece entering the fourth quarter, but Palmer won by outscoring Kenai 13-8 in the final eight minutes.

Kenai boys 57, Kodiak 48

The Kenai boys wrapped up fifth place in the Northern Lights Conference tournament with a Friday afternoon victory over Kodiak.

After falling to Palmer in Thursday’s quarterfinal round, the Kards made sure to end their season on a high note, leading wire to wire in the game and holding off a late charge from Kodiak in the fourth quarter. Kenai led 27-16 at halftime, but Kodiak surged in the third to cut the lead to 34-29.

However, the Bears struggled to make up the gap, even while taking a staggering 35 shots from beyond the arc and hitting 12 of them. Kenai shot 45 percent overall from the floor, compared to just 31 percent for Kodiak, and won the rebounding battle 38-27.

Senior Luke Beiser commanded his final prep game, scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds to lead the Kardinals, while teammates Adam Trujillo and Preben Strende each notched 14.

Strende was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, while Beiser also had five assists. Zack Tuttle also had 10 boards and five assists.

Soldotna girls 48, Kodiak 27

The Stars secured fifth place in the girls NLC tournament with a dominating win Friday morning over the Bears.

Aliann Schmidt led Soldotna with 11 points and 11 rebounds while Brittani Blossom scored 14 on 50 percent shooting from the field.

Danica Schmidt had six points, five boards and five blocks, and Denali Wurst chipped in six points.

SoHi blazed out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter and led 31-9 at the half. The Stars entered the fourth quarter up 39-16.

Several peninsula players were also named to the NLC All-Tournament teams. For Soldotna, Aliann Schmidt was named to the girls First-Team All-Conference squad, while teammates Danica Schmidt and Brittani Blossom were on the Second-Team list.

For Kenai, Brooke Satathite and Jaycie Calvert were named to the girls Second-Team list.

On the boys side, Kenai’s Luke Beiser was named to the First-Team list, while SoHi’s Jersey Truesdell made the Second-Team list.

Clayton Southwick of Palmer was named the boys conference MVP, while Wasilla’s Olivia Davies was girls MVP.

Clarion staff contributed to this story

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com

Friday boys

Colony 55, Soldotna 32

Soldotna 7-10-6-9—32

Colony 13-13-14-15—55

Soldonta (32) — Truesdell 2 0-0 6, Spence 3 4-5 11, Sheridan 1 1-2 3, Crowder 2 0-0 4, Michael 1 0-0 2, McElry 3 0-0 6; Totals: 12 5-9 32.

Colony (55) — Pomrenke 4 1-2 9, McMahon 3 0-0 7, Freeman 3 3-3 10, Menard 1 5-6 7, Spencer 3 2-2 10, Kizer 0 2-2 2, Villastrigo 1 1-2 3, Hersrud 3 0-0 6, Baker 0 1-2 1; Totals: 18 15-19 55.

3-point field goals: Soldotna 3 (Truesdell 2), Colony 4 (Spencer 2); Total fouls: Soldotna 19, Colony 13.

Kardinals 57, Bears 48

Kenai 14 13 7 23 —57

Kodiak 10 6 13 19 —48

KENAI (57) — Efta 1 0-1 2, Felchle 2 1-2 7, Baker 1 0-0 2, Tuttle 1 1-3 3, Riddall 0 0-0 0, Beiser 4 6-11 15, Trujillo 7 0-0 14, Strende 5 0-1 14. Totals 21 8-18 57.

KODIAK (48) — Giron 2 1-1 5, Rocheleau 4 0-1 11, Penamora 2 0-0 6, Galindao 2 0-0 6, Abellera 0 0-0 0, Parnell 2 0-0 5, Walker 3 1-1 9, Nocon 1 0-0 3, Macaraig 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 2-3 48.

3-point goals — Kenai 7 (Strende 4, Felchle 2, Beiser 1); Kodiak 12 (Rocheleau 3, Penamora 2, Galindao 2, Walker 2, Parnell 1, Nocon 1, Macaraig 1).

Team fouls — Kenai 9, Kodiak 15. Fouled out — Walker.

Friday girls

Stars 48, Bears 27

Kodiak 4 5 7 11 —27

Soldotna 15 16 8 9 —48

KODIAK (27) — Dela Cruz 1 0-0 2, Pruitt 0 0-0 0, Pascua 0 3-4 3, Villaroya 0 0-0 0, Kernan 4 0-0 8, Nocon 2 4-6 8, Spear 3 0-2 6. Totals 10 7-12 27.

SOLDOTNA (48) — McGillivray 1 2-2 4, Jaime 0 0-0 0, Miller 1 0-0 3, Blossom 5 2-2 14, A. Schmidt 4 2-3 11, Leaf 1 0-0 2, Buckbee 0 0-0 0, Holland 0 0-0 0, Wurst 3 0-0 6, Crosby-Schneider 1 0-0 2, D. Schmidt 2 2-2 6, McDonald 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-9 48.

3-point goals — Kodiak 0; Soldotna 4 (Blossom 2, Miller 1, A. Schmidt 1).

Team fouls — Kodiak 10, Soldotna 14. Fouled out — Dela Cruz, Miller.

Wasilla 62, Kenai 36

Kenai 10-5-10-11—36

Wasilla 12-19-13-18—62

Kenai (36) — Calvert 5 0-0 15, Hamilton 1 0-0 2, Paxton 1 0-0 2, Carrasco 4 0-0 9, Satathite 3 0-1 6, Streiff 1 0-0 2; Totals: 15 0-1 36.

Wasilla (62) — Brandenburg 6 5-6 19, Davies 3 0-2 8, Obremski 7 0-5 15, Green 6 0-0 12, Cox 1 0-0 2, Titus 3 0-0 6; Totals: 26 5-13 62.

3-point field goals: Kenai 6 (Calvert 5), Wasilla 5 (Brandenburg, Davies 2); Total fouls: Kenai 13, Wasilla 8.

Saturday boys

Moose 32, Stars 27

Soldotna 9 5 6 7 —27

Palmer 10 7 7 8 —32

SOLDOTNA (27) — Truesdell 1 1-4 3, Trammell 1 2-2 4, Spence 1 1-2 3, Sheridan 1 0-0 3, Crowder 1 0-0 2, Michael 2 0-0 4, McElroy 4 0-0 8. Totals 11 4-8 27.

PALMER (32) — Atkins 6 1-2 14, Titus 0 0-0 0, Hawkins 3 0-0 7, Rankin 0 0-0 0, Southwick 3 0-3 7, Oviok 0 0-0 0, Cutright 0 2-2 2, Marshall 1 0-2 2. Totals 13 3-9 32.

3-point goals — Soldotna 1 (Sheridan); Palmer 3 (Atkins 1, Hawkins 1, Southwick 1).

Team fouls — Soldotna 10, Palmer 9. Fouled out — none.

Saturday girls

Moose 53, Kardinals 48

Kenai 19 9 12 8 —48

Palmer 12 20 8 13 —53

KENAI (48) — Calvert 3 0-1 9, Hamilton 0 0-2 0, Maw 3 3-3 9, Hanson 3 0-0 6, Paxton 0 0-0 0, Carrasco 5 0-2 10, Satathite 5 4-6 14, Streiff 0 0-0 0, Severson 0 0-0 0, Coffman 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 7-14 48.

PALMER (53) — Wells 0 0-0 0, Busbey 4 0-0 11, Pettingill 0 0-0 0, Uschmann 0 0-0 0, Benshetler 0 0-0 0, Bowmen 4 4-6 13, Giese 0 0-0 0, Benshetler 7 3-5 17, Sutton 0 0-0 0, Alley 4 3-6 12. Totals 19 10-17 53.

3-point goals — Kenai 3 (Calvert 3); Palmer 5 (Busbey 3, Bowmen 1, Alley 1).

Team fouls — Kenai 14, Palmer 10. Fouled out — Hanson.

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