Nikiski girls basketball coach Lee Moore was correct when he predicted his team would face multiple scoring runs against Seward.
The Seahawks posted 7-0 spurts in the second and third quarters and added an 8-2 run midway through the fourth.
The problem for Seward was, the Bulldogs had one, big run of their own.
Nikiski scored 13 consecutive points over a five-minute stretch in the third quarter and held off a late Seward rally, earning a 46-41 Southcentral Conference victory Thursday night at Nikiski.
"Seward is never going to roll over and just give you the game," Moore said. "We talked at halftime about how it was going to be a game of runs. We knew they were going to make some for sure."
With the win, Nikiski moved into a tie with Seward atop the conference standings. Both squads are 5-2 with one regular-season game remaining. The Bulldogs close against Cordova, as do the Seahawks.
It was a back-and-forth game from the beginning, but Nikiski made the plays late.
After Seward used an 8-2 spurt to even the score at 39 with about three minutes to play, Kinsey Martin cut into the lane, took a pass and finished with her right hand.
On Nikiski's next possession, Savannah Griffel drew a foul and converted both free throws -- she finished 5-of-8 from the line -- to push the lead to 43-39.
Seward's Jessica Stallings, who sat on the bench during periods of the third quarter because of injury, drew a foul with 29 seconds left and hit both free throws, cutting the lead in half.
Those were the final points for the Seahawks, who had one more chance to even the score after Britany Tuttle split a pair of free throws at the 26-second mark.
However, Emily Draper's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 14 seconds to play didn't draw rim. Two more free throws for the Bulldogs sealed the game.
"The girls did a great job of getting rebounds when we needed to, blocking out, hitting shots when we needed them and making free throws when they counted," Moore said.
Seward never found a rhythm.
Coach Curtis Berry said the squad lacked energy over the first 16 minutes. Although he said the energy level increased in the second half, the lingering effects were too much to overcome.
"I don't think skillwise that we played horribly," Berry said. "Really that lack of energy in the first half kind of demoralized us a little bit. We played through it in the second half, but there was still a tinge of it there."
A pair of injuries didn't help the Seahawks, either.
Chelsey Clarke sustained a hip injury after a collision at midcourt, but stayed in the game. Stallings was sidelined with an injury during the third.
Berry wasn't ready to blame the loss on those ailments.
"We aren't going to offer those as excuses," he said. "We have the philosophy that any excuse is still an excuse. Our biggest affliction today was a lack of energy in the first half."
There were four ties and as many lead changes during a first half in which neither team led by more than four points. The score was 19-19 at halftime.
Seward went on a 7-0 run to open a five-point lead early in the third, but Nikiski answered with a 13-0 spurt to build a 37-29 lead, its largest of the game.
Draper had a team-high 11 points for Seward, while Clark finished with 10. For Nikiski, Griffel led the way with 11.
Angie Parrish and Mackenzie Moore added eight apiece, and Tuttle chipped in seven.
Seward boys 62, Nikiski 28
With two role players plugged into the starting lineup, the Seward boys basketball team opened a 10-point lead in the first quarter and coasted to a 62-28 victory on the road over Nikiski in Southcentral action on Thursday.
Jayna O'Leary, a sophomore, and Evan Pullins, a senior, both received starts. They have come off the bench most the season.
"It was good to get their feet wet in the starting lineup," coach Dan Krier said.
Krier made the move with the postseason approaching because he believed the team would benefit from the duo getting more game experience.
Seward has six seniors, and eight or nine athletes who Krier said are capable of starting. The coach said the key to his team's success has and will continue to be the effectiveness of its bench.
With the senior starters setting the tone, he added, it's up to players like O'Leary and Pullins to define their roles on the team.
"The seniors have all done the job and they have been really, really good leaders," Krier said. "I think that's why we've had the success we've had this year."
That leadership was on display Thursday as the Seahawks scored 15 of the first 18 points behind senior Andrew Buchanan, who scored nine of his game-high 19 over the opening eight minutes.
The Seahawks also got eight points from three different players -- Keenan Prochazka, Jeff Buchanan and Carlos Perea -- as well as six from Terry and Michael Thorn.
Seward moved to 6-1 in conference play and concludes the regular season against Cordova. The Seahawks are in position to earn a No. 1 seed to the conference tournament and are a favorite to reach state.
Krier said this is the best position Seward has been in since he took the helm 10 years ago.
"What it does is put a target on your back and it puts a target on your chest," he said. "Every night you come to practice, you have got to be ready to try to improve."
The Bulldogs were led by the 13 points of Sam Taylor and the seven of Colton Anderson. They will host the conference tournament beginning March 3.
Bulldogs 46, Seahawks 41
Seward 8 11 10 14 --41
Nikiski 10 9 14 13 --46
SEWARD (41) -- Lindquist 0 2-2 2, Zweifel 0 0-0 0, Berry 1 1-2, 4, Draper 4 1-2 11, Stallings 3 2-4 8, Clarke 4 2-3 10, Adelmann 3 0-2 6. Totals -- 15 8-15 41.
NIKISKI (46) -- Griffel 2 5-8 11, D. Holloway 3 0-0 6, Tuttle 3 1-2 7, Parrish 3 2-5 8, Moore 2 3 -5 8, Martin 2 0-0 4, Wallis 1 0-1 2. Totals -- 16 10-20 46.
3-point field goals -- Seward 3 (Draper 2, Berry); Nikiski 3 (Griffel 2, Moore). Team fouls -- Seward 17, Nikiski 12. Fouled out -- Berry.
Seahawks 62, Bulldogs 28
Seward 15 13 16 18 --62
Nikiski 5 9 5 9 --28
SEWARD (62) -- Prochazka 4 0-0 8, Lindquist 2 0-0 4, Buchanan 3 2-2 8, O'Leary 1 0-0 3, Moore 0 0-0 0, Dunn 0 0-0 0, Thorn 3 0-0 6, Clemens 0 0-0 0, Pullins 0 0-0 0, Buchanan 7 3-3 19, Terry 3 0-0 6, Perea 4 0-0 8. Totals -- 27 5-5 62.
NIKISKI (28) -- Anderson 3 0-0 7, Carlson 1 0-0 2, Johnson 1 0-4 2, Hartley 0 0-0 0, Taylor 5 0-0 13, Krogseng 1 2-4 4. Totals -- 12 2-8 28. 3-point field goals -- Seward 3 (Buchanan 2, O'Leary); Nikiski 4 (Taylor 3, Anderson). Team fouls -- Seward 11, Nikiski 12. Fouled out -- none.
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