Round 2 between the Kenai Central and Nikiski boys basketball teams went to the home team -- sort of.
Playing at Kenai Middle School because a flood damaged their home court over winter break, the Kardinals avenged an early season loss against the Bulldogs with a 63-55 victory Tuesday night.
Kai Risung scored 14 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for Kenai Central (5-4), which had six players score at least five points.
"First off, give Nikiski credit. They played hard, they played well," Kenai Central coach Ken Felchle. "We got the win, so that was good."
Yet Felchle said the Kards missed too many easy shots -- close-range jumpers and layups -- and as a result, allowed the Bulldogs to keep the game close.
The coach also said his squad committed too many fouls -- 17 -- and could have played better defense.
Despite that, he was happy with the win.
"It was a good game, it was a fun game," Felchle said. "Nikiski knew they were playing Kenai and they rose up to the occasion. That's a credit to them."
The Kardinals led the entire second half after turning a narrow first-quarter lead into an 11-point advantage at halftime.
The teams played an even third quarter, each scoring 11 points, and Kenai Central never allowed Nikiski closer than eight points in the fourth, building a 15-point lead early in the quarter.
Nikiski, a young squad with just three seniors on the roster, had four players who scored in double digits -- Sam Taylor (16), Lucas Herrin (13), Colton Anderson (13) and Julien Harris (10).
Harris got the Bulldogs within 56-48 with two minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get as the Kards knocked down just enough free throws late in the game to hold on. They finished 19-of-33 at the line.
Nikiski assistant David Holloway said Kenai Central's height in the post disrupted the Bulldogs flow on offense.
The Kards feature two players who are 6-foot-5 and 6-6 in brothers Tyler and Shane Spaulding, respectively, and Tyler Spaulding didn't play in the teams' first matchup this season.
Nikiski's tallest player is Herrin, who is 6-2.
"They've got a lot more height than we do," Holloway said. "That disrupted us. Trying to pass over the top we had a few turnovers. Shooting over it, adjusting to that, trying to get our body position and spacing the way we wanted it, trying to get fouls, we never adjusted all the way."
Kenai Central girls 39, Nikiski 30
With her head down, Stacia Rustad walked into the home locker room to give her team a postgame victory speech.
She walked out less than a minute later.
The Kenai Central High School girls basketball coach struggled to find anything positive to say following her squad's sloppy, turnover-plagued 39-30 victory over Nikiski at Kenai Middle School on Tuesday evening.
"I think I have pretty smart players and I have competitive players and they are not happy with themselves, either," Rustad said. "We didn't need to go in there and yell at them and get wild and crazy. They already knew. All we can do is get back on the floor tomorrow and play harder and better than we did today."
Kenai Central and Nikiski combined for 52 turnovers on a night when the Kardinals led wire-to-wire but missed three layups over the first four minutes, keeping the score closer than it could have been.
Both teams came out with a full-court press on defense and combined for 11 turnovers in the first quarter, which ended with the Kards up 10-4.
Kenai Central extended the lead to 22-12 at halftime, but committed eight of its 25 turnovers in the second quarter as Nikiski applied pressure on defense.
"Give Nikiski credit," Rustad said. "They had good pressure, they were playing hard for 32 minutes, they were playing smart and we didn't handle the pressure."
The Kards (7-1) pulled in 24 rebounds to the Bulldogs' 13, but Rustad wasn't pleased with her team's effort on the glass, either.
At halftime Kenai Central had 16 rebounds, while Nikiski had just three. Eight of the Bulldogs' 13 rebounds came in the fourth quarter.
"Not particularly, no," the coach said when asked if she was happy with Kenai Central's rebounding numbers. "Quite honestly I wasn't really happy with any aspect of the game. We didn't improve and we didn't execute, and I question that we played hard for 32 minutes."
The Bulldogs (4-3), who won consecutive games Friday and Saturday against Anchorage Christian Schools and Cordova, never got in sync on offense.
Leading scorer Makenzie Moore picked up her third foul with 3:24 to play in the second quarter and was forced to the bench for the rest of the half -- she came in for the team's final offensive possession inside the 10-second mark -- taking away the Bulldogs' top scoring threat. She scored 21 points in both the team's wins over the weekend, but was a nonfactor Tuesday against the Kards, scoring just two points.
Savannah Griffel led the Bulldogs (4-3) with 10.
Raquel Young led all scorers with 22 points for the Kards, who visit Palmer on Friday and Colony on Saturday before returning to the peninsula to face Soldotna on Tuesday.
Morgan Wensley added 10 points for Kenai Central, which is playing its home games at the middle school through at least the end of the month because of damage to the court at the high school caused by a flood over winter break.
Where the Kardinals play is the least of the team's concerns after Tuesday's win.
"There's a lot to learn. It's up to them as to whether they take what we did tonight and mentally think about it and say, 'OK, what do I need to do as an individual and as a team to improve from this night's performance?'" Rustad said. "They know that we did not play well."
Seward girls 58, Skyview 22
The Seahawks picked up a nonconference victory on Tuesday at Skyview.
Jessica Stallings had 19 points to lead the Seahawks, while Chelsea Clark had 18 points. For the Panthers (1-4), Jaxon Hill and Brittney Mercier each had six points.
Seward boys 62, Skyview 45
The Seahawks pulled away from the Panthers in the fourth quarter on Tuesday to pick up a nonconference victory.
Keenan Prochazka had 22 points for Seward, while Andrew Buchanan had 15. For Skyview, Albert White had 11, Jordan Jones had nine points and DJ Diaz had eight points and double-digit rebounds.
Skyview outscored Seward 18-11 in the third period to cut the Seahawks' lead to 44-39.
"We played hard but they have some good players and quality scorers," Skyview coach Jesse Settlemyer said. "They made their shots at the end."
Kardinals 39, Bulldogs 30
Nikiski 4 8 6 12 --30
Kenai Central 10 12 10 7 --39
NIKISKI (30) -- Griffel 4 2-2 10, D. Holloway 1 0-0 2, Dixon 1 1-3 3, T. Holloway 0 0-0 0, Tuttle 0 4-4 4, Parish 1 1-2 3, Moore 1 0-0 2, Martin 3 0-0 6, Wallis 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 11 8-11 30.
KENAI CENTRAL (39) -- Beeson 0 0-0 0, Chay 0 0-0 0, Dunlap 1 0-0 2, Garcia 0 0-0 0, Glonek 0 0-0 0, Jackman 0 0-0 0, Kelley 0 0-0 0, Kiefer 1 0-0 2, McGahan 0 0-2 0, Sandahl 1 1-2 3, Wensley 4 2-3 10, Young 9 4-7 22. Totals - 16 7-14 39.
3-point field goals -- none. Team fouls -- Nikiski 18, Kenai Central 17.
Kardinals 63, Bulldogs 55
Nikiski 12 11 11 21 --55
Kenai Central 16 18 11 18 --63
NIKISKI (55) -- Anderson 4 3-5 13, Johnson 0 1-2 1, Hartley 0 2-2 2, Harris 2 6-9 10, Herrin 5 3-6 13, Taylor 6 0-0 16, Griffith 0 0-0 0, Krogseng 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 17 15-24 55.
KENAI CENTRAL (63) -- Risung 5 4-6 14, Ziehmer 0 0-0 0, Landry 0 2-2 2, Hull 3 2-5 8, Spalding 4 5-10 13, Fitt 0 0-0 0, Glidden 0 2-4 4, Sandahl 0 2-2 2, Reilly 2 2-2 7, Spalding 3 0-0 6, Wensley 2 0-0 4, Hayes 2 0-0 5, Nason 0 0-2 0. Totals -- 21 19-33 63.
3-point field goals -- Nikiski 6 (Taylor 4, Anderson 2), Kenai Central 2 (Reilly, Hayes). Team fouls -- Nikiski 19, Kenai Central 17.
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