Nikiski's Sarah Herrin goes up for a shot in the first half against Service Saturday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Nikiski High School girls basketball team was looking forward to the challenge of matching up with Class 4A power Service Saturday at Nikiski. The Bulldogs didn't come out on top Service posted a 55-51 nonconference win but Nikiski was nonetheless pleased to perform well against one of the state's top teams.
"It's fun going up against 4A teams," Nikiski's Sarah Herrin said. "We have 'grunt' performances we go out and play tough defense, go after loose balls that's what this game was. It was a 'grunt' game, a no-plays-off kind of game."
The Bulldogs, a top Class 3A team, were able to control the pace of play through much of the game and led by two points, 35-33, at the half after Hannah Thompson hit a 3-pointer to close out the second quarter.
The Bulldogs were able to run the floor well through the first half, eventually forcing Service to switch out of its pressure defense and instead play man-to-man. Nikiski led by as many as six points in the first quarter before the Cougars clawed back. The teams traded leads throughout the second quarter.
"Coach said not to be afraid of having them up in our face, so we battled though it," Herrin said of facing the Cougars' press. "We didn't want to play timid, just go out there and play our Nikiski style no fear."
Service's Lillian Bullock took control of the game in the second half, though, scoring 19 of her 29 points after the break. Bullock accounted for all but three of her team's 22 second-half points as she was able to pull up and shoot or drive to the basket.
Nikiski's Sasha Auldridge looks to pass around Service's Kayla May in the first half Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Bulldogs stayed right with the Cougars, though, and trailed by just two points, 53-51, as Herrin hit a jumper with just over a minute to play.
The Bulldogs weren't able to get any closer, though, and Bullock hit two of five free throws to make it a four-point game as she was fouled three times in the closing minute to stop the clock.
"Nikiski's a great team. They're going to go a long ways at state at the 3A level," said Service coach Curt Schmidt. "... Nikiski did a great job handling our pressure. They made us get out of it and play man-to-man."
Once Service made the defensive adjustment, Nikiski proved to be patient in its half-court offense.
"We ran our offense really well," Herrin said. "We continuously ran it and eventually we'd find something wide open."
Herrin finished with 22 points to lead the Bulldogs while Krystal Gladden netted 11 and Thompson scored nine.
"I wouldn't trade this game. It will make us better it already has made us better," said Nikiski coach Ward Romans, adding that he was proud of the way his team played. "... It's nice to go out and get the evaluation process of a game. That's what we'll take from this one."
COUGARS 55, BULLDOGS 51
Service 18 15 11 11 55
Nikiski 16 19 6 10 51
SERVICE (55) May 0 0-0 0, Eldred 4 0-0 9, L. Bullock 12 4-7 29, Christianson 0 0-0 0, Jones 2 3-4 7, Wellman 1 0-1 2, Wilson 1 0-0 2, S. Bullock 3 0-0 6. Totals 23 7-12 55.
NIKISKI (51) Gladden 5 1-2 11, Griffel 0 0-0 0, Auldridge 3 1-2 7, Thompson 4 0-0 9, Herrin 7 8-11 22, Hitchcock 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 10-15 51.
3-point goals Service 2 (Eldred, L. Bullock), Nikiski 1 (Thompson). Total fouls Service 14, Nikiski 17. Fouled out Jones.
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