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Stars sweep Homer

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2002

No chart or compass or map -- not even the wise Aristotle himself could help the Mariners find the constellations Saturday at the Soldotna High School gymnasium. The Stars were much too high for Homer's players to reach.

So, like wingless Icarus, plucked from the sky, both the Mariners boys and girls basketball teams fell from the might of cosmic light.

The Soldotna boys defeated the Mariners 42-33 and the Soldotna girls beat the Homer girls 53-36.

In the boys' case, a painfully stagnant first half bled into an exciting finish as the unstoppable force of Soldotna hustle found ways around the immovable object of Homer's height. Homer coach Billy Day said his team, and his 6-foot-8-inch center and 6-foot-5-inch forward had seen better games.

"It wasn't a pretty game," Day said. "Our big guys were a non-factor."

The game began as an evenly-matched contest of speed-against-size, with combined scores of 15 and 14 respectively, in each of the first quarters. Homer center Aaron Hunting and forward Steven Stead consistently blocked Soldotna shot attempts, but were unable to put points up for their side. By the half, Homer was ahead 15-14.

But intermission saw a change.

"They looked like they wanted it more than we did," Day said about the Stars. "Soldotna's aggressiveness won the game for them. They were aggressive getting to the ball and they were aggressive getting to the basket."

Constant ball movement, and on-again-off-again full court pressure helped move the Stars ahead of the Mariners as Soldotna boys started the third quarter with 10 unanswered points. By the end of the period, Homer had only scored three buckets and Soldotna was up 34-21.

Stars junior Trevor Kennedy led all scorers with 14 points, most of which he earned in the second half, after senior and team leader Adam Kiffmeyer turned his ankle in the third.

"Our star player was hurt," Kennedy said. "Coach always says someone should step up. So I did."

Stars coach Bill Withrow said he has been looking to his younger players to take the reins at times to relieve Kiffmeyer of so much work.

"I need those younger kids to step up," Withrow said, "so we don't always have to depend on Adam."

Kiffmeyer scored nine points -- including one 3-pointer -- as did junior Ricky Simpson. Homer junior David Drake led the Mariners with 12 points, hitting two from 3-point land.

Withrow said he instructed his team to focus on getting the ball into the paint to overcome Homer's size advantage.

"You can't teach height," he said. "Our goal was to keep attacking the board. I told them if we did, it would draw fouls."

His strategy worked. The Mariners logged 19 fouls and the Stars found themselves at the free-throw line as many times, scoring 13 bonus points.

The girls game was one-sided from the get-go, with the Soldotna girls running away with a 10-point lead at the half. Following a barrage of buckets in the third quarter and an all-around explosive second half for junior Hillary Zobeck, the Stars put marked distance between themselves and the maligned Mariners. Zobeck equaled Homer's total scoring after the half-time break, putting up 19 points.

"We just came out running the floor," Zobeck said of her unabated scoring rampage.

Soldotna girls coach Mark Tuter said one key to his teams hustle is fresh legs in the front court. He rotated Annie Penner, Jennifer Senette, Erin Wolfe and Lauren Christensen regularly throughout the game.

"We have four really good guards," Tuter said. "I was just trying to keep pressure on the other guards. Most teams don't have four guards."

But pressure was the only thing Homer coach Mark Mahan attributed to the loss his young team received Saturday.

"Many young teams have mental lapses," he said of the Mariners team that has only one senior. "We had too many turnovers. We have to focus on ball handling."

Mahan hinted at another gem he felt Soldotna had in Zobeck and Rachel Besse that could help his diminutive team.

"I'd like to have one of those big girls."

Saturday

STARS 42, MARINERS 33

Soldotna 5 9 20 8 -- 42

Homer 10 5 6 12 -- 33

SOLDOTNA (42) -- Turnbull 0 0-0 0, Nettles 0 0-0 0, Histand 2 0-0 4, Kennedy 5 4-7 14, Richman 1 0-0 2, Sizemore 1 2-3 4, Kiffmeyer 3 2-3 9, Michal 0 0-0 0, Simpson 2 5-6 9. Totals -- 14 13-19 42.

HOMER (33) -- Kuhns 0 0-0 0, Mahan 0 0-0 0, Todd 0 1-2 1, Luebbert 2 2-2 6, Drake 5 0-0 12, Stead 2 0-0 4, Crum 0 0-0 0, A. Smith 0 0-0 0, Hunting 0 0-0 0, Turner 5 00-2 10. Totals -- 14 3-6 33.

3-point-goals -- Soldotna 1 (Kiffmeyer 1), Homer 2 (Drake 2). Fouls -- Soldotna 13, Homer 19. Fouled out -- none.

Girls

STARS 53, MARINERS 36

Soldotna 9 18 11 15 -- 53

Homer 7 10 14 5 -- 36

SOLDOTNA (53) -- Penner 0 0-0 0, Senette 3 0-0 6, Christensen 2 0-0 5, Wolfe 3 0-0 6, Pitts 0 0-0 0, Besse 0 1-2 1, Penner 3 3-4 9, Syverson 4 0-0 8, Tabor 0 0-0 0, Denna 0 0-0 0, Zobeck 9 3-4 21, Breakfield 0 0-0 0, Hartman 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 22 7-10 53.

HOMER (36) -- Eller 0 2-2 2, Creamer 2 0-0 4, Crandall 5 0-1 10, Thompson 2 0-0 2, Sinnhuber 3 0-0 6, Morawitz 0 0-0 0, Lowney 3 2-2 8, Setterquist 0 2-6 2. Totals -- 15 6-11 36.

3-point goals -- Soldotna 2 (Wolfe 1, Christensen 1). Fouls -- Soldotna 12, Homer 15. Fouled out -- none.



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