Soldotn'a Tony Besse takes a shot over defenders from Wasilla Friday at Soldotna High School.
M. Scott Moon
The Wasilla girls and boys basketball teams defeated host Soldotna by identical scores of 50-39 on Friday in the Northern Lights Conference openers for both schools.
In the girls game, the Warriors outscored the Stars 22-9 in the third quarter to take command of a sloppy offensive game which saw 30 turnovers by Soldotna (8-2 overall) and 25 turnovers by the Warriors.
In the boys game, Wasilla (5-3 overall) gradually expanded on its lead after trailing after the first quarter thanks to its ability to take care of the ball. Soldotna (5-4 overall) had 23 turnovers, while Wasilla had just 11.
Early in the season, the Soldotna girls showed some vulnerability to the press. Stars coach Mark Tuter thought he had that problem solved.
“I thought I did, but then again we haven’t been pressed like that,” Tuter said. “We came out tight in the first half and tight in the second half.”
In the first quarter, Soldotna had 10 turnovers as Wasilla took a 15-11 lead. In the third quarter, the Stars again turned the ball over 10 times as the Warriors took a 43-25 advantage.
“We have different presses that affect teams in different ways,” Wasilla coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax said. “We were very effective with our press in the first and third quarter.”
Hebert-Truax was not happy with her team’s turnover-ridden performance on offense.
“We had a lot of unforced turnovers,” she said. “We did a lot of traveling. We got out of our game plan.”
Wasilla was 18-of-49 (37 percent) for the game, but the Warriors heated up in the third quarter. Wasilla was 8-of-16 in the frame, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
Jenna Johnson had nine of her game-high 17 points in the quarter and hit 3-of-4 from the field. Anne Wesser scored five of her 12 points in the quarter, hitting both of her shots, while Ayla Brown added six points in the frame by going 2-for-2 from 3-point land.
Appropriately, the quarter ended with Wesser nailing a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.
The Stars made a charge in the fourth quarter, with a 9-0 run cutting the gap to 47-36 with 2:54 remaining. The Stars went 4-of-4 from the field during the spurt and did not turn the ball over.
While Soldotna would get no closer, Tuter said the run was good for his team’s confidence.
Mikala Smith paced the Stars with 11 points, while Christa Kennedy had 10 points and seven rebounds. Paige Blackburn had eight rebounds, while Karen Senette sparked the Stars in the fourth quarter by hitting all four of her shots and scoring all of her nine points.
Wasilla boys 50, Soldotna 39
Both teams employed a patient offense in the game, rarely taking a quick shot or running a fast break.
“They’re a very smart, disciplined team, and we’re trying to be a smart, disciplined team,” Soldotna coach Chris Hanson said. “I actually anticipated that this was the way it would go.”
Both teams were similarly accurate from the field, with Wasilla hitting 17-of-46 (37 percent) and Soldotna connecting on 16-of-45 (36 percent). Both teams also were woeful from the foul stripe, with the Warriors finishing 13-of-30 and the Stars 6-of-13.
Soldotna, behind 13 rebounds from 6-foot-6 Tony Besse, had a 38-30 advantage on the glass, but the Stars lost that advantage with the minus-12 turnover differential.
“I think that’s a good characteristic of this team,” Wasilla coach Jason Marvel said. “They play hard. They get into you on defense.”
The Stars grabbed a 10-8 lead in the first quarter thanks to a big effort on the glass by Besse. The senior had eight rebounds in the quarter four of which were offensive to go along with four points.
The Warriors went on a 9-2 run over the final 2:22 of the first half and first 1:25 of the second half to take a 25-18 lead a sizable advantage in the slow-paced game. Soldotna would get no closer than five points the rest of the game.
Wasilla point guard Jesse Bean’s ballhandling was instrumental in holding off the Stars, although Bean went just 5-of-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter in finishing the game with 17 points. Jimmy Sliwa had 13 points for the Warriors, including five during the pivotal 9-2 run late in the first half and early in the second.
Wasilla’s Logan Williams, a 6-6 senior, added 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Hanson said 6-5 senior Ryan Shelton did well to limit the damage caused by Williams.
Soldotna's Kelly Seggerman looks to pass the ball in the fourth period Friday at Soldotna High School.
M. Scott Moon
For Soldotna, Kelly Seggerman had nine rebounds and chased Bean, who will play for the University of Alaska Fairbanks next year, around for most of the game. Besse had 13 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
“He’s getting better every game,” Hanson said of Besse. “He’s very unselfish. He makes the kids around him better. When he learns to play his position and the guards learn to get him the ball, it’s going to be a deadly combination.”
Warriors 50, Stars 39
Wasilla 15 6 22 7 50
Soldotna 11 5 9 14 39
WASILLA (50) Wesser 5 1-2 12, Fulton 1 0-0 3, Putnam 1 0-0 2, Brown 2 0-0 6, Johnson 5 6-8 17, Cronk 0 0-0 0, Husmann 0 0-2 0, Podbielski 1 2-2 4, Carter 3 0-0 6. Totals 18 9-14 50.
SOLDOTNA (39) Smith 4 1-2 11, Senette 4 0-0 9, Heffner 0 0-0 0, Kennedy 4 1-4 10, Donaldson 0 0-0 0, Jen. Stenga 0 0-0 0, Barker 2 0-0 5, Duffy 0 0-0 0, Blackburn 2 0-0 4. Totals 16 2-6 39.
3-point goals Wasilla 5 (Brown 2, Wesser 1, Fulton 1, Johnson 1), Soldotna 4 (Smith 2, Senette 1, Kennedy 1). Fouled out Barker.
WARRIORS 50, STARS 39
Wasilla 8 12 14 16 50
Soldotna 10 6 11 12 39
WASILLA (50) Bean 5 5-10 17, Sliwa 5 3-6 13, Collins 1 0-2 3, Troshynski 1 2-4 4, Green 0 0-2 0, Stearman 0 2-2 2, Williams 5 1-4 11. Totals 17 13-30 50.
SOLDOTNA (39) Blossom 1 2-2 4, Carver 4 1-2 9, Besse 7 3-9 17, Syverson 0 0-0 0, Kohler 1 0-0 3, Andrus 0 0-0 0, Seggerman 2 0-0 4, Shelton 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 6-13 39.
3-point goals Wasilla 3 (Bean 2, Collins 1), Soldotna 1 (Kohler 1). Fouled out Seggerman.
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