ACS girls take down Bulldogs: Seward girls reach championship game

Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011

Suddenly, the path to the Class 3A state tournament isn't so clear for the Nikiski girls basketball team.

Not after the opening round of the Southcentral Conference tournament.

On a day when the lower-seeded teams won two of three games, No. 3 Anchorage Christian Schools used a 15-1 run in the fourth quarter to come back against No. 2 Nikiski in a 41-36 win.

The Lions move into the championship game against Seward at 6 p.m. today. The Seahawks topped Cordova 62-34 on Thursday. The Bulldogs now must win three games in two days to qualify for state for the second time in three years.

Nikiski faces No. 4 Grace Christian, which opened the tournament with a 45-35 loss to previously winless No. 5 Cordova, in a loser-out game at 3 p.m. today.

A win would have catapulted the Bulldogs into the conference championship and a winner-to-state contest on their home floor. Instead, they must win today and twice more Saturday.

"The loss was hard to take, but ultimately this game doesn't mean anything," Nikiski coach Lee Moore said. "The games that mean stuff are all coming up, so we've got to get ourselves ready to go for those."

On Thursday, it looked as if the Bulldogs had the game in hand with about six minutes to play.

They outscored the Lions 15-7 in the third to turn a 19-13 halftime deficit into a 28-26 advantage and scored the first four points of the fourth.

Britany Tuttle finished a backdoor pass from Mackenzie Moore with 6:16 to play and Savannah Griffel, who notched a team-high 16 points, hit a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs a 32-26 lead.

Nikiski's next basket wouldn't come until the final seconds.

The Lions trimmed the lead to 32-31 and went ahead at the 2:26 mark on a layup from Sarah Taylor, who finished with six points. A pair of free throws from Madison Ealum gave ACS a 35-32 advantage 10 seconds later.

Griffel, who hit 10-of-16 from the line, split a pair of free throws to make it 35-33 at the 1:35 mark.

Needing a stop, the Bulldogs forced Sarah Severson into a 3-point shot after the Lions passed the ball around the perimeter for about 30 seconds on the next possession. The ball didn't draw rim, but ACS came away with possession after a scramble.

ACS hit six free throws over the final 30 seconds to ice the game.

"It was a tough way to close," Moore said.

The Lions, who frequently use a full-court press on defense, played zone for the better part of three quarters.

They finally went to the press in the fourth, forcing Nikiski into a series of turnovers. ACS coach Darrin Powers said he stayed away from the press most of the game because he didn't want to wear his players down.

"We didn't want them to be tired in case we lost," Powers said, referring to a scenario where the Lions would have played three games in two days. "When I felt the momentum change, I just decided to throw my press out there and try to drag it back to our side, and I think that did it for us."

ACS took a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter and held the Bulldogs to three field goals over the first 16 minutes. Nikiski was 6-of-10 from the free-throw line in the first half -- ACS was 0-2 -- and hung around, trailing 19-13 at the break.

The Bulldogs attempted 25 free throws to the Lions' 12, keeping the game close despite the fact they made just eight field goals. Moore scored 12 for the Bulldogs.

Severson added 12 for the Lions, who had four players score at least six points.

Nikiski made just two field goals in the fourth quarter -- and one of them was a buzzer-beater by Griffel that cut the lead from eight to five after a 15-1 Lions run.

Now the focus for Nikiski is finishing the tournament on a high note.

"All the games that count are in front of us, and that's the main thing," Moore said. "Win and you're in, lose and you're out. It puts a lot of pressure on them."

Seward girls 62, Cordova 34

The top-seeded Seahawks poured in seven 3-pointers to earn a spot in tonight's championship game.

Meg Berry had six 3-pointers en route to 20 points, while Chelsey Clarke also added 20 points for the Seahawks. For the Wolverines, Kari Gilman had 14 points.

Cordova girls 45, Grace Christian 35

The Cordova girls basketball team picked the perfect time to earn its first conference victory. After a winless regular season in league play, the Wolverines opened the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski with a 45-35 win over Grace Christian on Thursday.

Kari Gilman of Cordova led all scorers with 17 points, hitting 7-of-11 free throws. Teammate Christina Morrisett added 12.

The Wolverines outscored the Grizzlies 15-4 in the third quarter after the teams entered halftime tied at 13.

Grace faces host Nikiski in a loser-out game at 3 p.m. today. The winner advances to another loser-out contest at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Thursday girls

Southcentral Conference tourney

Day 1

at Nikiski

Lions 41, Bulldogs 36

ACS 8 11 7 15 --41

Nikiski 3 10 15 8 --36

ACS (41) -- Severson 4 1-2 12, Warren 0 2-2 2, Dickerson 3 0-2 7, Duncan 0 0-0 0, Taylor 3 0-2 6, Crayton 2 4-4 8, Ealum 2 0-0 4, Busse 0 0-0 0, Snyder 1 0-0 2, Randall 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 15 7-12 41.

NIKISKI (36) -- Griffel 2 10-16 16, Holloway 0 4-6 4, Tuttle 1 0-0 2, Parrish 1 0-0 2, Moore 4 2-2 12. Totals -- 8 16-25 36.

3-point field goals -- ACS 2 (Severson, Dickerson); Nikiski 4 (Griffel 2, Moore 2). Team fouls -- ACS 19, Nikiski 11. Fouled out -- Dickerson, Snyder.

Seahawks 62, Wolverines 34

Seward 14 12 22 14 --62

Cordova 9 10 12 3 --34

SEWARD (62) -- Erchinger 0 0-0 0, Lindquist 1 1-1 3, Zweifel 1 0-2 2, VonBorstel 1 0-0 2, Berry 7 0-0 20, Draper 1 2-2 5, Stallings 4 0-1 8, Campbell 0 0-0 0, Clarke 8 4-4 20, Adelmann 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 24 7-10 62.

CORDOVA (34) -- Webber 1 2-2 4, Morrisett 0 2-2 2, Adajar 0 0-0 0, Gilman 5 2-2 14, Kelly 2 1-1 6, Merritt 1 0-0 2, Howard 0 0-0 0, Carter 3 0-2 6. Totals -- 12 7-9 34.

3-point goals -- Seward 7 (Berry 6, Draper 1); Cordova 3 (Gilman 2, Kelley 1). Team fouls -- Seward 8, Cordova 11. Fouled out -- none.

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