Ninilchik girls, CIA boys keep on winning

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Ninilchik girls and Cook Inlet Academy boys, two of the top Class 2A teams in the state, both picked up victories Friday in District 3/2A contests at Cook Inlet Academy.

The Ninilchik girls, who have won four straight Class 2A girls titles, topped Cook Inlet Academy 53-23. The victory moves the Wolverines, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, to 19-0 on the year. It is their 92nd straight victory.

The Cook Inlet Academy boys, the runner-up in Class 2A last year, got past the Wolverines 59-47. The victory moves the Eagles, who are ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, to 15-5 on the season.

The Ninilchik girls used a familiar formula to take a 19-4 lead after one quarter. The Wolverines' vaunted press worked wonders, with turnovers leading to plenty of easy buckets.

The Ninilchik press created a big problem for the Eagles because the two tallest players on the floor, Ninilchik's Kendra Moerlein and Amanda Matson, pressure the ball. Moerlein and Matson were quick enough to make the Eagles put some air under their passes.

That played right into the hands of Ninilchik's speedy guards, who wait behind Moerlein and Matson for the opportunity to pick off turnovers.

"That rattles us every time," Cook Inlet Academy coach Greg Bell said of the press.

Making matters worse for the Eagles, Bell said his team did not play good defense against the Wolverines. In a loss at Ninilchik earlier in the season, the coach said his team did a much better job of stopping Ninilchik.

"Our defense then threw our offense off," Bell said. "We did not play very good tonight."

Ninilchik coach Dan Leman, meanwhile, was happy with his team's offense Friday. Thursday, the Wolverines overcame a nightmare on offense in the first half against Nenana. Ninilchik trailed 24-11 after the first half before coming back to post a 40-32 victory.

"We could not get anything to drop in that first half (Thursday)," Leman said. "It was nice to see them scoring a lot of points tonight."

As the game went on, Ninilchik's advantage became more pronounced because of the Wolverines' depth.

"(Leman) just has so many solid players he can put out there on the floor," Bell said. "We don't have that kind of depth."

Leman liked the balance his team showed on offense, with 10 players ending up in the scoring column. Ninilchik was dangerous from the outside, with senior guard Amanda Peterson netting seven points, and also from the inside, with sophomore Kendra Moerlein scoring 17.

Alyse Bell and Melissa Moffis both had seven points to lead Cook Inlet Academy.

Cook Inlet Academy boys 59, Ninilchik 47

The Eagles used a dominating effort on the offensive glass in the first half to take a commanding 37-22 lead that was too much for the Wolverines to overcome.

Cook Inlet's two big men, Blake Gabriel and Adam Cooper, controlled the first half. Gabriel had 14 of his 18 points and Cooper had seven of his 13 points.

"They were just leaving the back side open," Cooper said of Ninilchik's defense. "We were getting all of our easy baskets on the back side."

Eagles coach Max Vavilov said his team talked about getting on the offensive glass before the game.

"We talked about creating more scoring opportunities," Vavilov said. "Every shot you take is not going to come out of the offense.

"We need second and third chances, and it takes hard work and effort to get those."

Ninilchik coach Chris Hanson said the easy first-half buckets by the Eagles came because his team was too eager to help on defense. This left CIA open underneath.

The Wolverines shored up that deficiency at halftime and came out playing scrappy defense. Cook Inlet Academy scored just five points in the third quarter.

"Their aggressiveness threw us off," Cooper said.

Hanson said he was proud of the way his team came out and played defense in the second half. However, Ninilchik sputtered on offense far too much in the third quarter to mount a comeback. The Wolverines had just six points in the third quarter.

"We did some good things tonight, but we did not play good enough to beat a team like that," Hanson said. "They're a very good team."

Jeremy Franchino added 10 points for the Eagles. Connor Cooper paced the Wolverines with 16 points, while John Paul Russo added 11 points.



Ninilchik 19 9 12 13 53

CIA 4 8 3 8 23

NINILCHIK (53) Peterson 3 0-0 7, Ka. Moerlein 2 0-0 4, Leman 1 2-4 4, Wolford 2 0-0 4, Matson 4 0-0 8, Ke. Moerlein 8 1-2 17, Wood 1 0-0 2, Skjold 1 0-0 2, Bartolowits 0 0-0 0, Rohr 0 1-2 1, Dawson 2 0-2 4. Totals 24 4-10 53.

COOK INLET ACADEMY (23) Query 1 0-0 2, McConnell 1 0-0 2, Smith 0 1-2 1, McNutt 0 0-0 0, Bell 2 3-8 7, White 0 0-0 0, Moffis 3 0-0 7, E. Thornton 1 0-0 2, H. Thornton 1 0-0 2, Bauder 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 4-10 23.

3-point goals Ninilchik 1 (Peterson 1); Cook Inlet Academy 1 (Moffis 1). Team fouls Ninilchik 8, Cook Inlet Academy 12. Fouled out none.


Ninilchik 12 10 6 19 47

CIA 19 18 5 17 59

NINILCHIK (47) Coleman 0 0-0 0, Kruzick 3 0-0 6, Schollenberg 3 2-2 8, Klapack 1 0-0 2, Cuffe 0 0-0 0, Pullium 2 0-0 4, Russo 5 1-4 11, Cooper 7 2-2 16. Totals 21 5-8 47.

COOK INLET ACADEMY (59) Franchino 3 3-4 10, Nettles 4 0-1 9, Beeson 2 2-2 6, Burger 1 1-2 3, Brown 0 0-0 0, Hall 0 0-0 0, Gabriel 8 2-5 18, Cooper 6 1-3 13. Totals 24 9-17 59.

3-point goals Cook Inlet Academy 2 (Franchino 1, Nettles 1). Team fouls Ninilchik 13, Cook Inlet Academy 8. Fouled out none.

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