The Nikiski girls basketball team made up for a poor shooting night with a good rebounding night.
The host Bulldogs hung on for a 44-42 victory over fierce District 3/3A rival Seward Friday night by scoring their last eight points on possessions extended by offensive rebounds.
In the late game, the Seahawks boys broke open a close contest with a strong third quarter and cruised to a 44-33 victory.
The Nikiski girls, ranked sixth in the latest prep poll, improved their record to 5-0 in the region and 11-3 overall while dropping the Seahawks to 3-2 and 5-6.
"Every team is going to have poor shooting nights," said Nikiski coach Ward Romans, whose team connected on 35 percent of its attempts from the floor. "The key is to keep playing defense and keep rebounding.
"That will keep you in the game."
The biggest of Nikiski's 18 offensive rebounds came after Seward's Erin Carr nailed a pair of foul shots to knot the score at 42-42 with 51 seconds left in the game.
Nikiski's Sally Glaze came down and misfired on a jump shot, but the struggle for the rebound resulted in a jump ball, with the possession arrow pointing toward the Bulldogs.
Glaze missed another jumper, but Laura Berdahl snared the rebound, got fouled going up for a layup, and calmly drained a pair of foul shots with 25 seconds left.
"We've been practicing free throws a lot in practice," said Berdahl, whose 18 points and 11 rebounds were both game highs. "I think that helped a lot.
"Our free-throw percentage has been up as a team."
The Seahawks, who had been down by as much as 13 points in the second half, had one last chance to tie it.
Paula Banic, who combined with Carr to score 19 second-half points and spearhead the comeback, missed a jumper from just inside the 3-point arc with four seconds left. Seward did not get off another attempt before the buzzer sounded.
"We got even more than we wanted on that last possession," Seward coach Roger Steinbrecher said. "We looked for an opening on top, and it was almost there. We drove in the lane, and that was almost there.
"We kicked it out for an open shot, and we even had the rebound before the horn sounded. We just couldn't get anything to go."
In the first half, it didn't look like the Bulldogs would have to sweat any last-second shots as Berdahl, who stands 6-foot-0, took advantage of Seward's young post players and scored 14 points to stake the Bulldogs to a 25-18 lead.
In the third quarter, Dayna Pritchard stretched the lead to 33-20 when she hit a foul shot with 3:07 on the clock.
However, a halftime adjustment Steinbrecher made in Seward's zone then began to take a toll on Nikiski. Steinbrecher wouldn't say what that adjustment was after the game, but Romans has it figured out.
"They started doubling Laura Berdahl, and said somebody else is going to have to score to beat us," Romans said. "We adjusted and got good shots, they just weren't dropping."
The Seahawks stormed back with a 13-0 run during the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. Eight of those points came from Banic, while five came from Carr.
"Our intensity level went down on defense in the third quarter," Pritchard said. "We played defense pretty good the whole game, except for the third quarter."
No more than four points separated the teams during the fourth quarter, but rebound baskets from seniors Jessica Carr, Tiffany Cason and Maggie Kendall in the last 4 1/2 minutes helped cement the Seahawks fate.
"We knew it was going to be tough rebounding," said Banic, whose team was outrebounded 38-23. "We tried to block out, but they still ended up outrebounding us."
Banic paced the Seahawks with 14 points, while Carr added 11.
Seward boys 44, Nikiski 33
As a team coming off an awkward 17-day layoff due to avalanches, the Seward boys know a little something about the devastating effects of momentum.
The Seahawks, who ended their game drought Tuesday at ACS, went on a 15-2 roll to start the second half and take control of the game.
"It was a matter of they had to start hitting their shots," said Seward coach Chuck Boerger, whose team was 32 percent from the floor in the first half and 45 percent in the second half. "Offense and defense feed on each other.
"After we made some shots, we got them to turn the ball over a few times. Things worked together."
Seward's initial second-half spark came from Clint Draper. The 5-foot-7 senior was forced out of the game with 3:50 left in the first half when an elbow opened up a cut over his eye.
However, Draper returned at the start of the second half and scored five quick points to get the Seahawks up and running.
Meanwhile, Nikiski was turning the ball over regularly en route to notching just four points in the third quarter.
"They took us out of what we were trying to do offensively," Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad said. "We wanted to push the ball up the floor and get some easy baskets.
"We came into the locker room with 17 points, so I thought we should pick up the pace a little bit. Somehow, that never happened."
Nikiski, whose rotation normally includes just seven or eight players, was missing Jeremy Kouf Friday. The high-scoring senior was in Texas.
"He's probably averaging 18 or 19 points a game," said Kornstad, whose team is now 2-3 in the district and 5-9 overall. "It would have been nice to have those points tonight."
After Draper dropped in a layup to give the Seahawks a 44-25 lead with 4:20 left in the game, Jamie Queen, Scott Carlson and Ryan Bowlin each had rebound layups, and Bowlin added two foul shots, as the Bulldogs closed the game with an 8-0 spurt that was too little, too late.
"The effort was there," Kornstad said. "Rarely, if ever, do I call this team's effort into question. That's what makes this loss very difficult to swallow."
Draper led the Seahawks with 13 points as they improved to 3-2 in the district and 5-5 overall. Queen dumped in 13 points for Nikiski, while David Holloway chipped in 12.
BULLDOGS GIRLS 44, SEAHAWKS 42
Seward 7 11 13 11 --42
Nikiski 12 13 8 11 --44
SEWARD (42) -- Gifford 0 0-0 0, Zimmerman 0 0-0 0, Carr 4 3-3 11, Banic 7 0-0 14, Fisher 3 0-0 8, Banse 1 1-2 3, Ganser 1 0-0 2, McHone 2 0-0 4, Regis 0 0-0 0, Dieckgraeff 0 0-0 0, Linville 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 18 4-5 42.
NIKISKI (44) -- Lofstedt 0 0-0 0, Kendall 2 1-2 5, Pritchard 4 1-3 9, J. Carr 0 0-0 0, Glaze 2 1-2 5, Berdahl 7 4-7 18, Cason 2 1-2 5, J. Carr 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 18 8-16 44.
3-point goals -- Fisher 2. Total fouls -- Seward 13, Nikiski 10. Fouled out -- none.
SEAHAWKS BOYS 44, BULLDOGS 33
Seward 9 11 15 9 --44
Nikiski 8 9 4 12 --33
SEWARD (44) -- Draper 6 0-1 13, Bartlett 1 0-0 2, Lewis 0 1-2 1, Hamilton 3 0-0 7, Elhard 2 0-0 6, Swiderski 0 0-0 0, Varnell 3 1-1 7, Davis 0 0-0 0, Loomis 0 0-0 0, Blankenship 3 0-0 8. Totals -- 18 2-4 44.
NIKISKI (33) -- Queen 6 1-3 13, Reilly 0 0-0 0, Holloway 6 0-0 12, Carlson 1 0-2 2, Bowlin 1 2-2 4, Seater 0 0-0 0, Vance 0 0-0 0, Heath 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 15 3-7 33.
3-point goals -- Blankenship 2, Elhard 2, Hamilton, Draper. Total fouls -- Seward 11, Nikiski 10. Fouled out -- none.
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