Colony hoops sweep SoHi

Stars girls pick off Palmer

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2008

 

  Soldotna's Shelly Barker moves the ball down the court in the second period Friday night against Colony. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Soldotna's Shelly Barker moves the ball down the court in the second period Friday night against Colony.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

It was a classic blooper moment, but it was illustrative nonetheless.

With 6:09 to play in the second quarter in a Northern Lights Conference contest at Soldotna on Friday, Colony's John Palmer hit a pair of foul shots to give the Knights a 24-9 advantage.

After the second shot bottomed out, the ball bounced under the basket a few seconds while Stars players decided who was going to pass in the ball. Colony's Josh Moseley then grabbed the ball and went under the basket to pass it in.

After a brief gaze of disbelief, officials quickly realized the mistake and rectified it. At the same time, a point had been made about the style of play Colony coach Jeff Bowker drills into his players' heads: We need extra possessions, and we'll do almost anything to get them.

Bowker's ethos paid off as the Knights rolled to a 60-43 victory to improve to 7-0 in the league and 15-4 overall. Colony is currently the top team in the WPI, the formula the Alaska School Activities Association uses for seeding teams at state. The Stars dropped to 4-3 in the league and are 12th in the WPI.

In the girls game, Colony took a 30-19 lead at the half then held on for a 47-41 victory. The Knights improved to 6-1 in the league and are currently second, behind Chugiak, in the WPI. The Stars fell to 12-6 overall and 6-2 in the NLC and are 10th in the WPI.

The Colony boys immediately took control of the game with a 14-4 run out of the gate, capped by a layup from Antone Zagars with 3:00 left in the first period.

"We played with a lot of intensity early," Bowker said. "The guys created extra possessions and that's key for us. I don't care how we get them offensive rebounds, steals, tips, deflections, tie-ups."

The Knights displayed a rabid desire for the basketball that Soldotna coach Chris Hanson said his squad did not match.

"You have to match their intensity, and we absolutely did not do that," Hanson said. "You have to have five guys on the floor that won't back down and that will take it right to them. We did that at certain times, but not enough."

Hanson said one area where the difference in intensity was apparent was rebounding, one of Soldotna's strengths all season.

"When you have something you do really well, like rebounding, you can't win a big game if you don't do well at something you normally do well," he said.

Bowker, who led the Knights to a runner-up finish at state last season, said his method for promoting intensity is simple.

"They need to play that way, or they won't play," he said. "They believe in each other and want to get on the floor."

The Knights are able to keep the pressure up with a deep, interchangeable bench. Nine players appeared in at least three quarters for Colony. The Knights' leading scorer was Jaron Murphy with 12, while Doug Gray added 10.

"I don't think we have anybody averaging in double digits," Bowker said. "We have a bunch of guys averaging seven, eight or nine."

After going into the half trailing 34-18, Hanson said he made some minor adjustments at halftime. Early in the second half, the Stars went on a 6-1 run that made the score 38-28 on a Larsen Kohler layup with 3:00 left in the third quarter. The Knights immediately answered by causing a string of turnovers and going on an 11-0 spurt that ended on a Murphy free throw with 6:51 left in the game.

"Pressure will pay off eventually," Bowker said, adding that his players, particularly Murphy, did good job dealing with a tough road environment.

Hanson credited Dan Geller, who paced Soldotna with 10 points, with a lot of good, tough minutes. The coach also said Michael Bauder continued his solid play of late at both ends of the floor.

Colony girls 47, Soldotna 41

The Knights survived a poor shooting night by speeding the game up early and slowing it down late.

In the first quarter, Colony jumped out to a 15-6 lead by causing turnovers with its full-court press. Soldotna would turn the ball over 25 times in the game, including 16 in the first half, while Colony would have just 10 turnovers in the contest. Soldotna stayed in the game with marksmanship from the floor. The Stars were 17 of 36 (47 percent) from the field in the game while Colony was 20 of 61 (33 percent). Soldotna was led by Paige Blackburn's 16 points. Blackburn was instrumental in keeping her squad in the game early, scoring all of SoHi's eight points of the first quarter on 4 of 5 shooting.

"We've been shooting 47 percent," Colony coach Don Witzel said. "Paige it seemed like she made 100 percent of her shots tonight. They had some kids that shot really well."

Late in the first half, Soldotna switched to what coach Mark Tuter calls his storm defense. Witzel said SoHi's defense is basically a matchup zone. The defense gave Colony trouble in the third quarter as the Knights were just 3 of 15 from the floor and Soldotna chipped away at the lead to make it 38-31 heading into the final eight minutes.

"In the second half, they went to a zone and we had a hard time adjusting to it," Witzel said. "Once we got the right group on the floor, we started to adjust to it.

"I think Soldotna really slowed us down. In the first half, we got a lot of fast-break points. In the second half, we didn't get those."

Colony continued to struggle against the zone early in the fourth quarter. In the first two minutes of the quarter, Soldotna went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 40-37. Soldotna was 3 of 3 from the floor with no turnovers during the stretch, while the Knights were 1 of 1 with three turnovers.

Witzel called timeout and Colony returned to the floor with a more patient approach to dealing with the zone. A long string of passes led to a wide-open layup by Alex Coon, who finished with 13 points, for a 42-37 lead with 5:00 left.

"We were not getting to the right spots on the floor to attack, and we were settling for shots instead of using the extra pass to get the shot we wanted," Witzel said.

A hard drive by Karen Senette resulted in two free throws that cut the gap to 42-39 with 4:42 left. At the 3:30 mark, Witzel called timeout and went to a spread offense. A Megan Bowker layup made it 44-39 with 2:50 to play, then Soldotna missed two quality shots and Colony held the ball until Coon made 1 of 2 from the foul line with 0:54 left. After a Soldotna turnover, Coon made two foul shots with 0:27 left to stretch the lead to 47-39 and weather Soldotna's storm.

"We need to find a way to get over the hump," Soldotna coach Mark Tuter said. "We're getting to where we need to be to make a run for state."

Tuter said it was nice to have Jessi Stenga return to the lineup after an injury.

For Colony, Allie Grazulis paced all scorers with 18 points. Witzel said she also did a good job helping out down low on defense. The coach also said Tara Garrod continues to improve with pesky defense and an affinity for attacking the rim.

Palmer boys 47, Soldotna 46

The Moose held off a Soldotna rally in the final period to pick up a Northern Lights Conference victory on the road.

Palmer had a 42-31 lead entering the final period before Soldotna (4-4 in the NLC) stormed back. Bryce Jacobson paced the Moose with 16 points, while T.J. Fullmer had 14. For Soldotna, Liam Andrus had 18 points while Brad Blossom added 13.

Soldotna girls 48, Palmer 37

After saying his team needed to find a way to get over the hump after a failed comeback against Colony on Friday, Tuter watched his team catch air as it quickly got over that hump Saturday in NLC action at Soldotna.

The Stars (13-6, 7-2) overcame a 33-28 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter. Blackburn had 15 points to lead all scorers, while Stenga and Senette each added 10. For Palmer, Ashley Swetzof had 10 points.

Boys

KNIGHTS 60, STARS 43

Colony 22 12 12 14 60

Soldotna 9 9 10 15 43

COLONY (60) Zagars 2 1-3 5, Huggins 0 5-6 5, Murphy 5 2-3 12, Palmer 1 6-8 8, Scott 2 0-0 4, Niver 4 0-0 9, Gray 2 5-8 10, Moseley 0 1-2 1, Stearman 2 2-2 6, Summers 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 22-32 60.

SOLDOTNA (43) Carver 1 0-0 3, Story 0 2-2 2, Br. Blossom 0 0-0 0, Grubb 0 4-6 4, Bauder 0 1-1 1, G. Blossom 0 0-0 0, Geller 4 2-3 10, Barkman 1 1-2 3, Kohler 3 2-2 9, Griglione 0 0-0 0, Jansen 0 1-2 1, Andrus 2 0-0 4, Bo. Blossom 1 0-0 2, Shelton 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 13-18 43.

3-point goals Colony 2 (Niver 1, Gray 1); Soldotna 2 (Carver 1, Kohler 1). Team fouls Colony 21, Soldotna 30. Fouled out Kohler, Griglione, Andrus.

MOOSE 47, STARS 46

Palmer 13 11 18 5 47

Soldotna 16 6 9 15 46

PALMER (47) Draughon 1 2-4 4, Gatto 0 0-0 0, Fullmer 6 0-0 14, Hillies 3 0-0 7, Swetzof 0 1-2 1, Bergeron 0 0-0 0, Adam 2 1-2 5, Jacobson 5 5-9 16. Totals 17 9-17 47.

SOLDOTNA (46) Carver 0 0-0 0, Br. Blossom 5 2-4 13, Grubb 2 1-2 5, Bauder 2 0-0 4, Geller 1 0-1 2, Barkman 1 0-0 2, Kohler 1 0-0 2, Griglione 0 0-0 0, Andrus 6 6-8 18, Shelton 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 9-15 46.

3-point goals Palmer 4 (Fullmer 2, Hillies 1, Jacobson 1); Soldotna 1 (Br. Blossom 1). Team fouls Palmer 16, Soldotna 12. Fouled out none.

Girls

KNIGHTS 47, STARS 41

Colony 15 15 8 9 47

Soldotna 8 11 12 10 41

COLONY (47) Hamann 0 0-0 0, Garrod 4 0-0 8, Hotchkiss 0 0-0 0, Bowker 2 0-0 4, Grazulis 8 2-5 18, Coon 4 5-10 13, Larson 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 7-15 47.

SOLDOTNA (41) Senette 2 4-4 8, Stenga 1 0-2 2, Dykstra 0 0-0 0, Heffner 1 0-0 2, Duffy 2 1-2 5, Barker 3 0-0 8, Blackburn 8 0-0 16. Totals 17 5-8 41.

3-point goals Soldotna 2 (Barker 2). Team fouls Colony 10, Soldotna 14. Fouled out none.

STARS 48, MOOSE 37

Palmer 8 12 13 4 37

Soldotna 11 8 9 20 48

PALMER (37) Swetzof 4 1-8 10, J. Cox 2 3-4 7, Stratton 0 0-0 0, Campbell 1 2-5 5, Mangelsdorf 0 0-0 0, M. Cox 0 1-2 1, Bolling 1 2-2 4, Zimmer 0 0-0 0, Tzou 3 2-3 8, Ratcliff 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 11-24 37.

SOLDOTNA (48) Senette 2 6-6 10, Stenga 2 6-10 10, Dykstra 1 1-1 3, Heffner 1 0-0 2, Duffy 1 1-2 3, Barker 1 0-2 3, Blackburn 5 5-6 15. Totals 14 19-27 48.

3-point goals Palmer 2 (Swetzof 1, Campbell 1); Soldotna 1 (Barker 1). Team fouls Palmer 22, Soldotna 18. Fouled out none.



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