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Homer boys survive tense final 30 seconds vs. SoHi

Posted: Sunday, February 09, 2003

The Soldotna girls basketball team defeated Homer Saturday evening at the Soldotna gymnasium in what appeared from the scoreboard to be an easy victory, while the Homer boys team was chased to the wire by the Stars, defeating Soldotna in the final seconds.

The Soldotna girls won 42-32, and the Homer boys won 56-50.

"Isn't this the longest 30 seconds in your life?" a Homer spectator asked as the stop-and-go final ticks of boys regulation time languished for more than 15 minutes.

The Stars had been down by 16 points midway through the third quarter. But Soldotna went on a 24-12 run in the fourth quarter, capped by two straight treys from senior Tommy Turnbull. Those treys tied the game at 47.

The treys also led to the dramatic final 30 seconds, which began with the score tied at 50.

Soldotna inbounded the ball after a Mariner free throw made it 51-50 and drove down the court, pushing the ball to Caleb Sizemore in the lane. But Sizemore missed the layup and Homer's Steven Stead picked up the board.

Stead kicked the ball out to Byron Turner who dribbled to halfcourt to make a pass to Ben Kuhns. The throw was tipped, however, and Kuhns lost the battle for a recovery to Stars senior Cody Michal.

On an inbounds play, Sizemore got the ball and drove the lane, colliding with Stead and Homer's Byron Turner. Sizemore was called for charging and became the Stars' third starter to foul out inside of two minutes, joining Turnbull and Ricky Simpson.

On the ensuing inbounds play, Kuhns' attempted football pass to Matt Mahan, but it sailed over its mark and out of bounds at the opposite baseline. Soldotna also committed a turnover, on the following play, however, returning the ball to the Mariners.

With 17 seconds left, Turner was pushed in the lane by Michal, and hit both foul shots to make it 53-50. Soldotna's last chance was thwarted when a crafty Kuhns intercepted a Mark Baker pass to Michal. Kuhns was fouled and hit two free throws, and Kuhns hit another free throw a series later, and the final seconds expired.

"I just didn't want to lose this game," Kuhns said, referring to the four-game slide the Mariners snapped with their win.

Homer coach Billy Day said his team was frustrated by Soldotna's smaller post players.

"You'd think as much as we had them outmatched in the post, we would get shots in," he said. "We're very fortunate. Soldotna did a good job of defending the post."

Stars coach Bill Withrow said poor foul shooting and baseline shooting hampered his team early.

"If we had made our layups and our free throws, we would've been in it sooner," he said. "I wish I knew what buttons to push to get that kind of energy out of them. I'd do it all the time."

In the girls game, the Stars had a quick start over the visiting team, going 26-12 in the first half. But the Stars offense sputtered in the second half, and shot production declined until a 14-point lead diminished to just seven point near the end of the third quarter.

Homer coach Mark Mahan said he felt encouraged being able to come as close as he did to the undefeated Stars.

"I think they did fine," he said of his Mariners. "They're supposedly the No. 2 team in the state and only beat us by 10 points. Our team is growing in confidence. Hopefully, by the time regions come around in a few weeks, they'll be ready to play with (Soldotna)."

Stars coach Mark Tuter expressed discontent with his team's attitude. He said he didn't feel his team played up to its potential, pointing out lapses in decision-making, failure to execute plays and waning senior leadership as reasons for his angst.

"We can't get in the habit of just playing well enough to win," Tuter said. "There are six or seven teams that can win state this year and we truly believe we are one of them. Playing at the level we played tonight, we'd get beat by half the teams in our region."

Tuter said the Stars had played other recent games below their capabilities, and promised that changes, including harder practices, would be instituted to focus the team.

Soldotna team captain Amy Breakfield said their 18-0 record has put added pressure on the team to succeed.

"It puts a target on our backs for teams to beat us," she said.

Senior Jenna Syverson said the team was in a midseason slump.

"We just need to refocus," Syverson said.

Breakfield pointed to one positive note in the stint of sour ball play.

"Luckily, we keep winning," she said.

Girls

STARS 42, MARINERS 32

Homer 4 8 11 9 -- 32

Soldotna 13 13 9 7 -- 42

HOMER (32) -- Mahan 0 0-0 0, Crandall 4 4-6 12, Creamer 0 0-0 0, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Sinnhuber 1 0-0 2, Cousins 0 0-0 0, Morawitz 1 2-3 4, McKinstry 1 1-2 3, Riley 0 0-0 0, Lowney 2 0-0 5, Setterquist 2 0-3 4, Lightcap 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 12 7-14 32.

SOLDOTNA (42) -- Senette 0 5-6 5, Wolfe 0 0-0 0, Christensen 1 0-0 3, Foster 0 0-0 0, Besse 8 1-1 17, Syverson 0 0-0 0, Howard 0 0-0 0, Needs 0 0-0 0, Denna 0 0-0 0, Zobeck 5 3-5 13, Breakfield 1 2-5 4, Jones 0 0-0 0, Hartman 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 15 11-17 42.

3-point goals -- Homer 1 (Lowney), Soldotna 1 (Christensen). Total fouls -- Homer 16, Soldotna 12. Fouled out -- none.

HOMER 56, STARS 50

Homer 13 10 16 17 -- 56

Soldotna 13 4 6 24 -- 50

HOMER (56) -- Kuhns 1 0-0 3, Mahan 0 0-0 0, Adams 0 0-0 0, Luebbert 7 4-5 18, Drake 1 0-1 2, Stead 10 2-3 22, Crum 2 0-1 4, Smith 0 0-0 0, Golsen 0 5-6 5, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Winne 0 0-0 0. Total -- 21 13-18 56.

SOLDOTNA (50) -- Turnbull 5 2-2 14, Stone 0 0-0 0, Baker 1 1-5 3, Spindler 0 0-0 0, Michal 2 1-1 5, Horn 0 0-0 0, Chase 0 0-0 0, Sizemore 4 7-10 15, Hall 0 0-0 0, Bomulak 0 0-0 0, Horwath 0 4-8 4, Simpson 3 3-4 9. 15 18-32 50.

3-point goals -- Homer 1 (Kuhns), Soldotna 2 (Turnbull 2). Total fouls -- Homer 20, Soldotna 18. Fouled out -- Turnbull, Sizemore, Simpson.



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