A strong defensive effort against an undermanned opponent got the Kenai Central girls basketball team back on track after a pair of tough losses.
Kenai Central pitched a shutout on defense in the first quarter, Morgan Wensley scored 24 points and the Kardinals rolled to a 44-17 victory over Skyview in Northern Lights Conference action Saturday at Skyview.
With the win, the Kards rebounded from a three-point setback against Soldotna earlier in the week and a 40-point loss Friday against powerhouse Dimond.
"It's hard to come back, regardless of who your opponent is, the next day after a complete shellacking," Kenai Central coach Stacia Rustad said. "So I give my girls credit that they were able to come back and play hard and play pretty well. We didn't play to our capabilities, but we did OK after coming off a bad loss."
The Kards (9-3 overall, 3-2 league) never trailed after they scored the first 11 points of the game and kept the Panthers off the scoreboard for the first 10-plus minutes.
It wasn't until Jaxon Hill spun into the lane and hit a 5-foot jumper with 5:13 to play in the second quarter that Skyview (2-7, 1-2) got on the scoreboard.
That was the Panthers' only basket of the half as the Kards took a 21-2 lead into the break.
"We were just causing our own misery -- not staying in our offense and doing the small things to execute properly," Skyview coach Eric Pomerleau said. "That's what we focused on at halftime and we started getting some results from that. We still have to get a lot better on the offensive side of the ball."
The Panthers showed signs of life in the third, scoring 10 of their 17 points over the eight-minute stretch.
Generating points has been a problem for the squad most of the season, something on which Pomerleau said the Panthers must continue to improve.
Skyview managed just seven points on three field goals in the first, second and fourth quarters combined.
"Everyone has got to be a scorer," Pomerleau said, adding that if the team moves the ball more, the baskets will come. "That's what we are working on -- five cohesive people working in unison to get good shots and work together to put the ball in the hole."
Kenai Central played without starting point guard Allie McGahan, who has been sidelined with a sore ankle since the loss to Soldotna. Rustad expects the guard to return sometime this week.
Hope Steffensen, coming off a state wrestling championship, has moved into the rotation from the junior varsity squad to solidify the backcourt in McGahan's absence.
Rustad was pleased with the team's effort on defense most of the game, although she said there were a few lapses in the second half.
"We gave up some baskets that we shouldn't have because we were out of position," Rustad said. "But overall, we were happy with the defensive pressure."
The Kards have struggled to score points for the better part of a week, Rustad said, and will continue to work on that during practice. Raquel Young, the team's leading scorer, had just two points against the Panthers.
Wensley, however, filled the void with 24.
"We are in a scoring drought right now," Rustad said. "It's all of my starters, but they recognize that and we are making the changes and adjustments we need to make to get them more touches and get Raquel (Young) more touches."
Kenai Central boys 67, Skyview 45
After an impressive victory over a rival, all Kenai Central boys basketball coach Ken Felchle wanted to avoid was a letdown.
His team delivered a first-quarter beatdown.
The Kards scored 27 points over the first eight minutes and never looked back en route to a 67-45 win on the road Saturday against Skyview.
"I told the kids after Tuesday's emotional game (a win against Soldotna) that we wanted to enjoy the victory," said Felchle, who gave his squad Wednesday off from practice so they could soak up the 18-point win. "Wednesday night, I started to worry about this game because Skyview isn't a bad basketball team. They play hard here, and I didn't want to see a letdown."
The Kards put their coach at ease with a blistering first quarter in which they built a 16-point, never relinquishing it against the Panthers.
Three Kenai Central players scored in double figures -- Kai Risung (18), Tyler Spalding (16) and AJ Hull (10) -- as the Kards took an 11-point into halftime.
Skyview never got closer than 11 points in the second half, despite 16 points from Nic Madrid and 10 from Albert White.
Felchle said his squad played disciplined ball, and if it continues to do that, it will win games.
"I'm happy with the outcome," the coach said. "We played hard and we had a good victory. My worries were just, but my boys did a good job."
Kardinals 44, Panthers 17
Kenai Central 11 10 10 13 --44
Skyview 0 2 10 5 --17
KENAI CENTRAL (44) -- Beeson 0 0-0 0, Chat 0 0-0 0, Dunlap 4 1-2 10, Garcia 0 0-0 0, Steffenson 0 0-0 0, Jackman 0 0-0 0, Kelley 0 0-0 0, Kiefer 3 2-2 8, Sandahl 0 0-0 0, Wensley 10 4-6 24, Young 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 18 7-10 44.
SKYVIEW (17) -- Halverson 0 0-0 0, Hauptman 3 0-0 6, Saunders 0 0-0 0, Marang 0 0-0 0, Hill 3 0-0 6, Mercier 2 0-0 4, Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Bak 0 1-2 1. Totals 8 1-2 17.
3-point field goals -- Kenai Central 1 (Dunlap); Skyview none. Team fouls -- Kenai Central 8, Skyview 11. Fouled out -- none.
Kardinals 67, Panthers 45
Kenai Central 27 9 13 18 --67
Skyview 11 14 10 10 --45
KENAI CENTRAL (67) -- Risung 8 2-2 18, Landry 1 0-0 2, Hull 5 0-3 10, T. Spalding 6 4-8 16, Sandahl 1 2-2 4, Reilly 2 0-1 4, S. Spalding 2 0-0 4, Wensley 3 1-2 7. Totals -- 28 9-18 67.
SKYVIEW (45) -- Reynolds 1 1-2 3, McNamara 1 0-0 2, Symonds 1 0-0 2, White 4 1-2 10, 0 1-1 1, Madrid 3 7-8 16, McDonald 1 1-2 3, Diaz 4 0-0 8. Totals -- 11 10-14 45.
3-point field goals -- Kenai Central none; Skyview 4 (Madrid 3, White). Team fouls -- Kenai Central 12, Skyview 11. Fouled out -- none.
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