Nikiski's Sally Glaze and David Holloway both came up with solid second halves to lead the host Bulldogs to a sweep of District 3/3A foe Heritage Christian Friday night.
Glaze canned 14 of her game-high 22 points in the second frame as the Bulldogs stretched a one-point halftime lead to a 48-37 victory. Nikiski is now 7-0 in the district and 10-5 overall.
Holloway performed an even greater second-half revival, going for 20 of his game-high 21 points in the final 16 minutes as the Bulldogs overcame a three-point hole at halftime for a 61-54 victory.
The game was a crucial district triumph for the Bulldogs because both Heritage and Nikiski came into the game with one district loss. Nikiski is now 6-1 in the district and 12-4 overall. The Bulldogs are in second in the district behind undefeated Anchorage Christian Schools.
In the girls game, the Bulldogs prevailed over a game Heritage club that threw a well-thought-out defense and several offensive weapons at the hosts.
"This was a challenging game," Nikiski coach Ward Romans said of the win over the Eagles, now 4-3 in the district. "I've said all along there are four or five really good teams in our league. It's just stacked."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game, but Heritage came back to take a 14-11 advantage after the first quarter.
Throughout the first half, Heritage played a zone that collapsed on Karen Rabung and made sure it knew where Glaze was at all times.
"They played good defense on us the entire evening," Romans said. "We had 21 turnovers. That's way too many."
At halftime, Heritage coach Brion Williams said Romans made the adjustment of flashing an extra player to the high post on offense.
The extra player in the high post took attention off Glaze, who had five points in an 11-0 run to start the third quarter. Rabung ended the run when she nailed a foul shot to put Nikiski up 35-21 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.
"We switched to a man-to-man defense three minutes into the third quarter, but it was about three minutes too late," Williams said.
Meanwhile, Nikiski had cranked it up a notch on defense. Heritage was 1-of-9 from the floor in the third quarter with six turnovers.
"It was our defense that did it for us," Romans said. "The only field goal they got in the third quarter was that 3-pointer at the buzzer."
Williams agreed that it was his team's offensive sputtering in the third quarter that decided the game.
"We made a lot of turnovers in the third quarter that we weren't making in the first half," Williams said. "Too many of those turnovers were unforced."
In the fourth quarter, Heritage's Jenell Millar caught fire from 3-point land, hitting three trifectas. The last cut Nikiski's lead to 43-37 with 40 seconds left in the game, but Heritage would get no closer than that.
Rabung managed to score 12 points for Nikiski despite spending the evening playing in foul trouble, while Romans also said Joy Carr had nine big points.
Meggie Matteson paced Heritage with 17 points.
Nikiski boys 61, Heritage 54
Holloway gave Nikiski a slight edge in the game when he scored eight points in a 14-0 third quarter run, then helped the Bulldogs hang on to that edge when he hit 5-of-7 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
But Reid Kornstad said the most important player of the evening was Jason Gerke. Gerke had 14 of his 16 points in the first half when most of the other Bulldogs, including Holloway, were slumping from the floor.
"I thought Jason Gerke played like the senior he is tonight," Kornstad said.
The Bulldogs made just 4 of their 18 shots in the first quarter, but Heritage had 11 turnovers in the first quarter so the Eagles had just a 14-11 lead after the first frame.
In the first quarter, Heritage took an 11-2 lead, but Nikiski immediately answered with a 7-0 run to close the gap.
The trend of big runs continued in the second half. The Bulldogs trailed early in the third quarter before Rustin Hitchcock capped their 14-0 run with a layup that gave Nikiski a 37-27 advantage with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
However, Heritage battled right back with a 9-2 run that ended when CJ Newsome nailed a 3-pointer to make the score 39-39 with 7:49 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs got the upper hand again with a 6-0 run that ended when a layup by Jeremiah Taylor gave them a 49-44 lead with 5:40 left in the game.
Heritage would never overcome that deficit thanks, in part, to Holloway's foul shooting.
"It seemed like we were always one 3-pointer or one turnover away from getting back in the game in the final two minutes," Heritage coach Brad Lauwers said.
In addition to the strong performances from Holloway and Gerke, Kornstad gave credit to Josh Reilly for a strong defensive effort on Sean Flascher. Flascher finished up with 18 points, but with the height advantage he had on Reilly, it could have been considerably worse.
"Josh did a good job battling the big guys," Kornstad said. "He was giving up size, but I'll put Josh up against anybody when it comes to a battle of wills.
"He came up big tonight."
Newsome finished with 17 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Eagles.
"Nikiski's as good a defensive team as we have in our league," Lauwers said. "They weren't letting us do what we wanted to do on offense."
BULLDOGS 48, EAGLES 37
Heritage 14 7 4 12 --37
Nikiski 11 13 11 13 --48
HERITAGE (37) -- Miller 0 0-0 0, Piper 1 0-1 3, Chase 1 1-1 3, Matteson 6 4-5 17, Hanks 0 1-4 1, Millar 3 0-2 9, Berlen 1 2-2 4. Totals -- 12 8-15 37.
NIKISKI (48) -- Floyd 0 0-0 0, Gillaspie 0 0-0 0, Weaver 2 1-2 5, Lofstedt 0 0-0 0, Rabung 5 1-2 12, Carr 4 1-2 9, Glaze 7 5-7 22. Totals -- 18 9-16 48.
3-point goals -- Heritage 4 (Millar 3, Matteson 1); Nikiski 5 (Glaze 3, Carr 2). Total fouls -- Heritage 16, Nikiski 17. Fouled out -- none.
BULLDOGS 61, EAGLES 54
Heritage 11 13 12 18 --54
Nikiski 9 12 18 22 --61
HERITAGE (54) -- DJ Newsome 6 1-2 17, R. Newsome 0 0-0 0, Hebnes 0 0-0 0, Meisner 1 0-0 2, Guttierez 4 0-0 8, Burge 0 0-0 0, Flascher 8 2-5 18, Anderson 1 1-2 3, Reando 1 0-0 2, Corbin 2 0-0 4. Totals -- 23 4-9 54.
NIKISKI (61) -- Reilly 4 0-3 8, Crumpacker 0 0-0 0, Calderwood 0 0-0 0, J. Gerke 8 0-1 16, K. Gerke 0 0-0 0, Taylor 2 2-2 6, Holloway 6 7-11 21, Bowlin 4 0-0 8, Hitchcock 1 0-2 2. Totals -- 25 9-19 61.
3-point goals -- Heritage 4 (DJ Newsome 4); Nikiski 2 (Holloway 2). Total fouls -- Heritage 17, Nikiski 8. Fouled out -- Corbin.
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