Stars can’t outshine Knights in hoops

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2006

Too many turnovers did in the Soldotna girls and boys basketball teams Friday night in Northern Lights Conference action against visiting Colony.

In the girls game, the Stars entered the fourth quarter trailing by one point, but Colony started the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run, with six of those points coming off layups after steals. The Knights held on for a 50-46 victory to improve to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the NLC. The Stars fell to 8-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

In the boys game, the Stars turned the ball over 14 times in the first half in falling behind by nine, then continued to struggle with Colony’s pressure in the third quarter as the Knights broke away for a 69-40 victory. Colony moved to 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the NLC, while the Stars fell to 7-5 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

The Colony girls jumped on top of Soldotna early and the Stars spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.

“There were probably six times we tried to come back on them,” Soldotna coach Mark Tuter said. “We couldn’t get over that hump.”

The Stars trailed by just four points at the half, but the Knights came out and nailed three of their first six shots in the third quarter to build a 29-21 lead. After that, Colony would hit just one of its next 14 shots in the third quarter.

“I think we got a little tired and that’s what it tends to do to shooting,” Colony coach Don Witzel said of the cold spell.

Witzel also said such tough stretches are part of playing with a young team. The Knights start two freshmen, a sophomore and two seniors, and Colony’s top substitute is a sophomore.

Soldotna took advantage of Colony’s poor shooting and got back in the game, with Shelly Barker scoring the last five points of the third quarter to cut Colony’s lead to 32-31.

The Knights were able to build another cushion by causing all the turnovers at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Colony extended its half-court trap to nearly three-quarters court, and that crossed up the Stars enough to build the lead.

“We turned the ball over way too much to win this game,” Tuter said. “There is no reason for it. We just did it.”

After Sarah Walsh hit a jumper with 2:25 left, the Knights had a 49-37 lead. Soldotna closed the game on a 9-1 run with two 3-pointers by Christa Kennedy and another by Mikala Smith, but the furious rally ran out of time.

Kara Larson, a freshman, paced the Knights with 12 points, while SoHi sophomore forward Paige Blackburn had 17 points and junior forward Kennedy had 12 points.

“When it turned into a half-court game, Soldotna was able to get the ball inside on us,” Witzel said. “That was working well for them.”

Colony boys 69, Soldotna 40

The tallest player on Colony’s roster is 6-foot-3, while Soldotna’s starting lineup boasts a pair of 6-6 players in Tony Besse and Kory Wilbanks.

Early in the game, the height advantage paid big dividends for the Stars as Besse and Wilbanks combined to score Soldotna’s first six points.

What Colony lacked in height, it made up for in intensity by causing those 14 first-half turnovers and refusing to let Besse and Wilbanks rule the game. Colony coach Jeff Bowker said his team is used to playing at a height disadvantage.

“We never have any height,” Bowker said. “We never get any big kids at our place. We have good guard play so we like to keep the tempo up.”

Both teams were hampered by health issues in the game. Colony junior captain Ryan Coffman, one of the Knights’ three main scoring threats, missed the game due to illness.

The Stars won a tournament in Kotzebue Jan. 19 through 21, but the team also picked up the flu bug on the trip. With starter Austin Roberts already missing the last three weeks due to an ankle injury, starter Kelly Seggerman couldn’t play in the Colony game due to illness. Trujillo said other players missed practice this week due to illness.

“We weren’t healthy, but give the credit to Colony,” Trujillo said. “Colony is quick and athletic and they definitely overpowered our size with their tempo.”

An 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Ryan Gray, gave Colony a 49-28 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter and left little chance for a Soldotna comeback.

Colony’s Tom Creasey led all scorers with 17 points, while Gray had 11 and David Registe added 10. Besse had 12 for Soldotna. Trujillo also said Patrick Lybrand, who got the start in place of Seggerman, filled in ably by playing intense on both ends of the floor. Lybrand finished with eight points.

Palmer girls 61, Soldotna 33

Ashley Swetzof had 22 points and Geneva Ratcliff added 14 Saturday as the visiting Moose defeated the Stars in Northern Lights Conference action. Blackburn paced the Stars with nine points.

Soldotna boys 47, Palmer 44

The host Stars bounced back from Friday’s defeat by topping the Moose in NLC action Saturday.

Soldotna had a balanced attack, with Besse scoring 12, Brian Blossom netting nine, Lybrand hitting seven, Phil Newsome getting six, Brook Carver and Wilbanks getting four, Brennen Jackson getting three and Isaac Chatham getting two.

Girls

KNIGHTS 50, STARS 46

Colony 13 10 9 18 —50

Soldotna 8 11 12 15 —46

COLONY (50) — Joynt 3 2-5 9, Hotchkiss 3 2-4 9, Christensen 2 0-0 4, Grazulis 2 2-4 6, Class 1 0-0 2, Larson 6 0-0 12, Walsh 3 2-5 8. Totals — 20 8-18 50.

SOLDOTNA (46) — Smith 2 0-2 6, McCown 0 0-0 0, Kennedy 5 0-0 12, Stenga 0 0-0 0, Bell 2 0-0 4, Barker 3 0-0 7, Denna 0 0-0 0, Blackburn 8 1-3 17. Totals — 20 1-5 46.

3-point goals — Colony 2 (Joynt, Hotchkiss), Soldotna 5 (Smith 2, Kennedy 2, Barker 1). Team fouls — Colony 6, Soldotna 14. Fouled out — Smith.

MOOSE 61, STARS 33

Palmer 15 15 15 16 —61

Soldotna 5 11 8 9 —33

PALMER (61) — Svedin 2 0-0 6, Berberich 1 3-4 5, Cox 2 2-2 6, Bolling 0 0-1 0, Kenney 0 0-0 0, Ratcliff 6 4-6 14, Houtte 3 0-2 6, Hauser 0 2-4 2, Swetzof 9 2-5 22. Totals — 22 13-24 61.

SOLDOTNA (33) — Smith 0 1-2 1, McCown 1 0-0 2, Kennedy 4 0-0 8, Stenga 2 2-2 6, Bell 0 0-0 0, Barker 2 0-0 4, Denna 1 1-3 3, Blackburn 4 1-4 9. Totals — 14 5-11 33.

3-point goals — Palmer 4 (Swetzof 2, Svedin 2). Team fouls — Palmer 12, Soldotna 21. Fouled out — none.

Boys

KNIGHTS 69, STARS 40

Colony 19 12 22 16 —69

Soldotna 13 9 9 9 —40

COLONY (69) — R. Gray 5 0-0 11, Huggins 2 0-0 4, Murphy 0 0-0 0, Registe 4 2-2 10, Egger 4 0-0 8, River 4 0-0 8, D. Gray 3 2-3 9, Price 1 0-0 2, Moseley 0 0-0 0, Gatto 0 0-0 0, Creasey 6 3-3 17. Totals — 29 7-8 69.

SOLDOTNA (40) — Lybrand 4 0-0 8, Hepner 0 0-0 0, Jackson 2 0-0 4, Blossom 2 0-0 6, Martin 0 0-0 0, Besse 6 0-0 12, Newsome 0 0-0 0, Carver 1 1-2 4, Wilbanks 2 0-0 4, Chatham 1 0-0 2. Totals — 18 1-2 40.

3-point goals — Colony 4 (Creasey 2, D. Gray 1, R. Gray 1); Soldotna 3 (Blossom 2, Carver 1). Team fouls — Colony 6, Soldotna 11. Fouled out — none.



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