The Nikiski High School boys basketball team had a tough chore waiting for them upon their return from the holiday break -- figure out a way to match up with Kodiak's 6-foot-11 Nick Billings in the opening round of the SoHi Tipoff Tournament Thursday at Soldotna High School.
Billings and the rest of the Bears proved to be too much for Nikiski, though, and the Bulldogs suffered through a 78-25 defeat.
In other games Thursday, Homer beat Valdez 63-62, Skyview defeated Houston 77-53 and Soldotna defeated Kenai 44-28.
In today's consolation round, Nikiski will play Valdez at 3 p.m. and Houston will play Kenai at 4:45 p.m. Homer plays Kodiak in the 6:30 p.m. semifinal followed by Soldotna and Skyview in the 8:15 p.m. semifinal.
"Kodiak is tough. They can beat you a lot of different ways," said Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad. "They play a great system. They pressure the basketball -- they can do that with their big guy, and he can do some things himself."
Billings led all scorers with 31 points, getting most of his points with layups, dunks and easy put-backs in the paint.
Chris Roofe led the Bulldogs with six points, earning every one as he often found himself matched up against Billings. David Holloway and Ryan Bowlin each scored five for Nikiski.
Kornstad is hoping that the short wait for today's game will help his squad shake off the lopsided loss.
"We'll find out. The lessons are out there to be learned," Kornstad said. "You never know (if they've been learned) until the next time you step on the floor."
HOMER 63, VALDEZ 62
The Mariners were outscored by the Buccaneers 17-5 in the opening quarter, but Homer exploded for 25 points in the second quarter to lead by two, 30-28, at the half.
Homer was able to maintain its slight edge through the second half for the win.
Colby Kincaid led the Mariners with 16 points while teammate Neal Kuipers chipped in with 15 points.
Brian Pickard was the game's high-scorer with 23 points including five 3-pointers.
SKYVIEW 77, HOUSTON 53
The Panthers looked good on defense, ran the break well and handled Houston's pressure in their win over the Panthers.
Skyview led 25-8 after the first quarter and never looked back. Josh Rowell led the Panthers with 29 points while Mark McGarry and Nolan Rose each scored 11 points.
Josh Kirtland and Peter Clemens each scored 10 points for the Hawks.
SOLDOTNA 44, KENAI 28
The Stars built a 10-point lead through the first two quarters and extended it through the second half in their opening-round win over Kenai.
Aaron Hughes led the Stars with 12 points while teammate Shaun Williams chipped in with 10 points.
Marcus Webster led the Kenai effort with 11 points.
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