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Stars return to state: Quick start pushes SoHi past Kards

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010

Soldotna's boys jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Eight players tallied points as the Stars cruised to a 59-35 win over Kenai Central in the third-place Northern Lights Conference tournament game on Saturday at Skyview High School.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Kenai's Billy Kiefer can't get a shot past Soldotna's Evan Withrow and Robbie Smithwick in the fourth quarter of Saturday's Northern Lights Conference third-place game.

"Our whole team knew if we didn't win, it's the last game of the season," said SoHi senior Blaine Carver. "We had to win this game. There was no other option."

The Stars had a slow start their last meeting with the Kardinals, so they wanted to come out strong, said SoHi senior Boomer Blossom.

"We always talk about a fast start," Carver added. "We knew we had to pick it up in the first half."

Blossom paced the Stars with 17 points. Carver followed with 13 and DJ Stilchen added 10.

Bo Reilly led Kenai with 11 points. AJ Hull chipped in 10.

Blossom said the team had easy looks and rebounded well defensively.

"They didn't get many second chances," he said.

With the win, the Stars earned a berth in the 4A state tournament and a chance to try and improve on last year's runner-up finish.

"I just feel great right now," Blossom said.

"We've been working all season for this," Carver said.

Blossom and Stilchen combined for 43 points to lead SoHi over Palmer 61-44 in the 10:45 a.m. game to earn a third-place game berth. Blossom pumped in 27 points and Stilchen had 16.

Kyle Titus poured in a team-high 17 points for the Moose.

The Moose held a two-point lead at the half, but the Stars scored 34 second-half points to Palmer's 15. The Stars held the Moose to just three fourth-quarter points.

Playing back-to-back games affected Kenai more than SoHi, Blossom said. But that was not an excuse for Kards head coach Ken Felchle.

"They had to play under the same conditions as we did," Felchle said. "They were a better team than us today."

Billy Kiefer erupted for 29 points to lead Kenai Central over Kodiak 59-54 to earn a spot in the third-place match against SoHi. Twenty-four of Kiefer's points came in the second half of the game. He shot 9-of-10 from the line. Tyler Spalding and Reilly each chipped in 11 for Kenai.

Kodiak's Brian Fangonilo poured in 32 points. Raphael Matautia followed with 17.

Kenai trailed by one point at the half and by four after three quarters of play. The Kards put up 25 fourth-quarter points to Kodiak's 16 to earn the come-from-behind win.

Felchle said his team had a one-and-done mentality heading into the final quarter against the Bears.

"There was no tomorrow and the boys responded and played hard," he said. "Our boys played as hard as they could."

Instead of dwelling on the negatives of the NLC tourney, Felchle is focused on the positives.

"We just had a great tournament," he said. "We're gonna hold our heads up high."

Despite having a young squad, Felchle said his team proved its worthiness as an NLC contender.

The tournament was important for the future of Kenai's program, Felchle said.

"We are set for success in the future," he said.

Felchle said his job as a coach isn't just about the X's and O's of basketball, but more importantly to prepare his boys for the for what lies ahead.

"Basketball and games, in the end, it prepares you for the game of life and all the adversity that comes with it," he said. And Felchle's squad took a giant step toward their future this weekend, he said.

Wasilla boys 69, Colony 52

The Wasilla boys claimed their second straight Northern Lights Conference title with an overpowering second half, crushing Colony behind a complete performance on both ends of the floor.

Wasilla head coach Ryan Engebretsen, a former Homer standout, was named the coach of the year on the boys side after the tournament.

The win gave Wasilla its seventh NLC title in 11 years.

Cody Pfeifer scored 15 of his points in the first quarter, but the Knights hung tough as Colony's Scott Herman tied a back-and-forth half at 30-30 to send Colony into the locker room with perhaps the slightest edge in momentum.

Or perhaps not. The Warriors controlled the third quarter, equaling their biggest lead of the game on an acrobatic "and-one" finish and ensuing free throw by Pfeifer to make it 45-37 late in the quarter.

Saturday boys

Stars 59, Kardinals 35

Soldotna 24 12 13 10 -- 59

Kenai 7 9 10 9 -- 35

SOLDOTNA (59) -- Hahn 0 0-0 0, Story 1 0-0 3, Blossom 8 0-2 17, Jackson 0 0-0 0, Carver 5 1-2 13, Stilchen 2 1-1 5, Skjold 0 0-0 0, Smithwick 1 0-0 2, Withrow 2 1-2 6, Barnes 1 0-0 3, Bosick 5 0-0 10. Totals -- 25 3-7 59.

KENAI (35) -- Lowe 0 0-0 0, Hull 4 0-0 10, Kiefer 2 0-0 5, Spalding 2 3-4 7, Landry 0 0-0 0, Risung 0 0-0 0, Sandahl 0 0-0 0, Reilly 3 4-4 11, Rouswell 0 0-0 0, Hayes 0 0-0 0, Wensley 1 0-0 2, Rogers 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 12 7-8 35.

3-point goals -- Soldotna 6 (Story 1, Blossom 1, Carver 2, Withrow 1, Barnes 1); Kenai 4 (Hull 2, Kiefer 1, Reilly 1). Team fouls -- Soldotna 14; Kenai 9. Fouled out -- None.

Stars 61, Moose 44

Palmer 9 20 12 3 -- 44

Soldtona 14 13 14 20 -- 61

PALMER (44) -- T. Fullmer 2 0-0 5, K. Titus 7 1-1 17, W. Peltier 0 0-0 0, H. Dean 0 0-0 0, B. Brown 0 0-0 0, N. Mayer 0 0-0 0, J. Buresh 2 0-0 4, B. Bohman 0 2-7 2, K. Montgomery 0 0-0 0, S. Niekamp 3 1-2 7, C. Odom 4 0-1 9. Totals -- 18 4-11 44.

SOLDOTNA (61) -- T. Hahn 0 0-0 0, D. Story 0 2-3 2, B. Blossom 9 6-7 27, Z. Jackson 0 2-2 2, B. Carver 2 5-6 9, D. Stilchen 8 0-1 16, R. Smithwick 1 0-2 3, E. Withrow 0 0-0 0, J. Barnes 1 0-0 2, G. Bosick 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 21 15-21 61.

3-point goals --Palmer 4 (Fullmer 1, Titus 2, Odom 1); Soldotna 4 (Blossom 3, Smithwick 1). Team fouls -- Palmer 16; Soldotna 15. Fouled out -- None.

Kardinals 59, Bears 54

Kenai 7 12 15 25 -- 59

Kodiak 10 10 18 16 -- 54

KENAI (59) -- Lowe 0 0-0 0, Hull 1 2-6 4, Keifer 8 9-10 29, Spalding 5 1-2 11, Risung 1 0-0 2, Reilly 2 5-6 11, Rouswell 0 0-0 0, Hayes 0 0-0 0, Wensley 1 0-0 2, Rogers 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 18 17-24 59.

KODIAK (54) -- Fangonilo 11 5-7 32, Watkins 0 0-0 0, Obas 0 0-0 0, Tamarra 0 0-0 0, Cowley 0 0-0 0, Tacata 0 0-0 0, Matautia 8 1-2 17, Garner 2 0-0 5, Bezona 0 0-0 0, Medina 0 0-0 0, Fogle 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 21 6-9 54.

3-point goals -- Kenai 7 (Kiefer 4, Reilly 2, Wensley 1); Kodiak 6 (Fangonilo 5, Garner 1). Team fouls -- Kenai 10; 16. Fouled out -- None.



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