Soldotna's backup players get a chance to show their stuff

Stars cause Wolfpack to howl

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2001

In games that the Soldotna girls and boys basketball teams could have easily turned into humiliations for the West Valley Wolfpack Friday, both girls coach Mark Tuter and boys helmsman Ron Becker chose to show the SoHi Stars care more about class than point totals.

The Wolfpack left with little more than a whimper, showing their bark was worse than their bite as the Soldotna girls walked away with a 58-32 nonconference game Friday evening. The SoHi boys notched a 46-27 victory.

"I was very pleased with the way the kids played off the bench," said Tuter, who had 13 of his 15 players score. "You are always concerned about winning, but the important thing was getting my bench some playing time."

The Stars bench got more than just playing time as they took to an early 30-17 first-half lead, following the always consistent inside game of senior Gretta Besse, who led the team with 15 points in the contest.

"You kind of feel sorry for them," Besse said of the struggling Wolfpack. "They lost to Skyview (Thursday) night and they lost to us tonight. I think coach did the right thing and played our second and third strings."

The Wolfpack just couldn't get its game off the ground against the drowning defense of the Stars. Soldotna only allowed West Valley to score one field goal and one free throw in the entire third quarter and held all of the Wolfpack's players below double-digit scoring.


Soldotna's Cason Simpson goes up for a shot against West Valley's Ryan Jager during the second quarter Friday.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Gretta Besse and sister Rachel had a combined six blocked shots during their brief appearances on the hardwood while the surprise inside presence of 6-foot-0 sophomore post player Hilary Zobeck swatted away two more. Zobeck also added nine points for Soldotna.

"Hilary had a real nice game for us," Tuter said. "She is only at about 85 percent right now, but she did everything we needed her to do tonight."

Zobeck, who powered her way to the hoop through the Wolfpack on more than one occasion, came onto the hardwood like an animal, pulling down rebound after rebound and nailing jump shots from 15 feet out with ease.

"The team has been getting together great on all of our offenses," Zobeck said, crediting her breakout day to her teammates. "They played excellent tonight and coach made sure that everyone got some playing time."

Another standout performance came from 5-8 sophomore guard Jenna Syverson, whose ballhandling ability and patient passing, combined with an aggressive defense, sparked Soldotna Friday.

"She (Jenna) had some nice steals and hit some tough shots tonight," Tuter said. "She really rebounded well and is getting to be better and better as the season goes on."

Syverson, who had four points on the night, was reluctant to accept much credit for her performance on the court.

"I would say I had a decent night," she said. "I wouldn't say I had a great night. I anticipated some of their passes and got good position for the rebounds. What was important was that everyone got some playing time and a chance to score."

Soldotna boys 46, West Valley 27

The Soldotna boys basketball team escorted the Wolfpack out of the House of Blue Friday, giving them a loss and a smothering defense to remember on their long way home to Fairbanks.

"We held a high school boys basketball team under 30 points," Becker said. "How often do you see that?"

Soldotna followed the 12-point scoring lead of Nick Christensen who, with his ballhandling abilities and smooth shot, made the struggling West Valley defense look scared in his wake. At one point during the first quarter, Christensen stepped into the lane with the ball in his right hand before switching with a crossover dribble behind his back and laying it up and over the heads of his defenders for the score.

"Nick is a talented player," Becker said. "He does everything we need him to do and is a natural leader on the floor."

The Stars defense, which did not allow the Wolfpack to score a single shot from the floor in the third quarter, smothered West Valley with a tight pressure defense.

"Our defense is what really did it for us," Becker said. "We could have done some more on offense and we still have a lot to work on, but our defense was looking good."

Soldotna found nine of its players putting points on the board, while the Wolfpack struggled in the offensive points category. Jeff Baldridge led the way for West Valley, pouring in 14 points.

Both the girls and boys teams hit the road to visit the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, taking on Palmer and Colony in their respective homes before heading back to face the Kenai Kardinals on the Kards' home turf.

"We have a tough schedule ahead of us," Becker said. "There is not an easy game left for us."


Soldotna 10 20 16 12 -- 58

West Valley 5 12 3 12 -- 32

SOLDOTNA (58) -- Senette 1 4-4 6, Wolfe 0 1-2 1, Christensen 1 0-0 3, Kerrone 0 2-2 2, G. Besse 4 7-9 15, S. Penner 1 0-0 2, Syverson 2 0-2 4, Evans 0 1-2 1, Pitts 0 0-0 0, Severson 0 0-0 0, Gilbert 1 0-0 2, Zobeck 4 1-2 9, Breakfield 1 2-5 4, A. Penner 0 2-2 2, R. Besse 3 1-2 7. Totals -- 18 21-32 58.

WEST VALLEY (32) -- Powers 2 2-4 7, Hawkins 1 0-2 3, Ernst-Brook 0 0-0 0, Rexford 2 0-1 4, Hoener 0 0-0 0, Thompson 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Mireles 3 1-1 8, Clark 0 0-0 0, Craft 1 2-5 4, Powell 2 2-2 6. Totals --11 7-15 32.

3-point goals --Soldotna 1 (Christensen); West Valley 3 (Powers 1, Hawkins 1, Mireles 1). Total fouls -- Soldotna 14, West Valley 20. Fouled out -- Hawkins, Johnson, Powell.


Soldotna 7 16 12 11 -- 46

West Valley 8 7 1 11 -- 27

SOLDOTNA (46) -- Kelley 3 0-1 6, Houglum 0 2-2 2, Williams 0 0-0 0, Simpson 2 0-0 4, Christensen 5 2-2 12, Hardina 0 0-0 0, Kiffmeyer 2 0-0 4, Zeyer 0 0-2 0, Hughes 2 3-6 8, Metteer 3 0-0 6, Histand 1 0-0 2, Morris 1 0-0 2, Rose 0 0-2 0, Kohler 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 19 7-15 46.

WEST VALLEY (27) -- Grunich 0 0-0 0, Young 0 0-2 0, Kollmeyer 0 3-4 3, Sweetsir 1 0-0 3, Ferguson 0 0-0 0, Kennedy 0 0-0 0, M. Jager 0 1-3 1, Baldridge 5 3-4 14, R. Jager 1 0-0 2, Bowden 1 0-0 2, Craft 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 9 7-13 27.

3-point goals -- Soldotna 1 (Hughes); West Valley 2 (Sweetsir 1, Baldridge 1). Total fouls -- Soldotna 12, West Valley 16. Fouled out -- none.

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