Kenai's Nate Saltzgiver looks to pass the ball in the second quarter Friday during a home game against Skyview.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
According to Kenai Central girls basketball coach Ken Felchle, a team will lose nine times out of 10 when it plays not to lose.
When asked if Friday's 37-35 Northern Lights Conference victory over visiting Skyview was one of those 10 times, Felchle laughed.
"Maybe so," he said. "Maybe that was the one time."
The Kardinals led by 12 in the game and by 10 entering the fourth quarter before Skyview stormed back to just miss coming up with a victory in the final seconds. The Kardinals improved to 7-4 overall and 1-0 in the league with the victory, while Skyview fell to 4-6 and 1-2.
In the boys game, Kenai jumped out to a 12-0 lead before claiming a 69-39 triumph.
Felchle said the game plan was too keep Skyview's guards from penetrating. The plan worked for the first three quarters, as Skyview scored a total of 16 points. In the fourth quarter, the Panthers erupted for 19 points.
Senior guard Candace Penrod scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the final frame by hitting all of her shots from the field. The penetration also opened up opportunities for junior wing Brittany Meyer, who had nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, hitting two of her three shots.
"Give Skyview credit. They kept coming at us in the fourth quarter," Felchle said. "We ended up finishing. Give us credit for that."
Skyview senior guard Joanne Graves also played a pivotal role in the fourth quarter with her on-ball defense. Kenai was playing the game without top point guard Samantha Hull, who was out with a knee injury. This left the bulk of the ballhandling duties to Amanda Mills, who Felchle said is the one true point guard left. The Kardinals had just 10 turnovers in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, though, Kenai's lack of ballhandling depth began to show as the Kardinals had six turnovers.
"That's the story of our season," Skyview girls coach Ronnie Kier said. "We start out slow, then in the fourth quarter we decided to play basketball. We look good when we want to play basketball."
A jumper by Kenai's Hannah Delaney gave the Kardinals a 36-31 lead with 1:20 remaining. A free throw by Meyer, then a layup by Graves, cut the lead to 36-34 with 30 seconds remaining.
After Delaney missed the front end of a bonus, Penrod was fouled. She made the first but missed the second. Melissa Massey pulled down one of her game-high 12 rebounds and got the ball to Meyer, whose short jumper squirreled off the rim.
The ball went out-of-bounds to Kenai. Delaney made 1-of-2 from the line for a 37-35 lead with three seconds left. Skyview then missed its halfcourt attempt at victory.
The Panthers could not overcome their 30 turnovers with the fourth-quarter rally. Kier said a lot of those turnovers come from inexperience causing mistakes when quick decisions have to be made with the ball. Kier said the good thing is his team saw what can be accomplished when decisive, aggressive decisions.
"The girls saw in the fourth quarter how they can play," Kier said. "That should be a huge momentum boost for them."
Skyview's Brittany Meyer takes a shot above Kenai's Hannah Delaney (11) and Amanda Mills near the end of the fourth quarter Friday at Kenai.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Felchle, whose team was led by the 13 points and 10 rebounds of Kyla Steward, said it's nice to learn from fourth-quarter troubles without having to take a loss.
"We won our first conference game," he said. "We're 7-4 and we haven't been able to say that around here for a while."
Kenai girls edge SkyHiAfter losing to the Kardinals 79-26 in mid-December, the Panthers stayed with the Kardinals for a quarter before Nate Saltzgiver and the balanced Kenai attack pulled away in the second quarter.
After the slow start, Skyview used a 9-2 run to cut Kenai's lead to 14-9 with 3:22 left in the first quarter. Despite the big victory, Kenai coach Jim Beeson was not happy with his team due to stretches like Skyview's run in the first quarter.
"We gave up way too many easy shots on defense," Beeson said. "In the last game and a half, we've been letting the ball go right by us on defense. I realize Skyview has gotten better, but we can't keep playing defense like that."
In the second and third quarter, Skyview scored a total of eight points. It was not enough to keep up with Kenai, especially with Saltzgiver breaking out of a little shooting slump he had been in lately. Saltzgiver had a game-high 18 points, including 14 during a hot-shooting second quarter.
"He hadn't been shooting the ball well lately, but a big part of that was he hadn't been playing a lot of minutes due to foul trouble," Beeson said. "It was nice to see him back out there making shots instead of sitting next to me on the bench."
Skyview's Melissa Massey tries to get the ball past Kenai's Kyla Steward in the fourth quarter Friday at Kenai.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Skyview coach Red Goodwin said, at times, his team did a better job of executing some offenses against Kenai. Goodwin also said his team did better in closing out on Kenai's jump shots.
The Skyview coach said the Kardinals are hard to defend because they have so many weapons. Cory Toombs added 15 for Kenai, while Daniel Gustkey had 12 and Nate Byrd added 11.
"It's pick your poison," Goodwin said. "As a lot of great coaches have said, it's easier to deal with a star than it is five good teammates. That's what Kenai is. They share the ball and play very well together."
Rich Shirnberg paced the Panthers with 10 points. Goodwin also said Chad Hatten continues to come on strong for Skyview.
Kardinals rule boys contest
The Warriors received 24 points from Adrese Lavern and 12 apiece from Tyler Johannes and Shane Green in picking up a Northern Lights Conference victory at Skyview on Saturday.
The Panthers stayed in the game for a half, trailing 21-18. Wasilla got going in the second half, outscoring Skyview 43-16. Shirnberg paced the Panthers with 16 points.
Jenna Johnson had a game-high 18 points and Celeste Colegrove added 14 points as the Warriors picked up a 55-29 Northern Lights Conference victory on Saturday at Skyview.
Candace Penrod paced Skyview with 10 points.
The Kardinals notched an NLC victory in Homer on Saturday night by putting five players in double figures.
Nathan Byrd paced Kenai with 17 points, while Daniel Gustkey had 16, Cory Toombs had 12, Zach Rabung had 11 and Nate Saltzgiver had 10.
The girls lost to Homer after falling in an 11-1 hole early. The final score of the game was not available as the Clarion went to press.
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