Kardinals get past Kodiak

Soldotna also grabs opening round win

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2007

 

  Kenai's Daniel Gustkey takes a shot over Kodiak's Curtis Catt and Michael Thomas in the first quarter Thursday night at the Northern Lights Conference Basketball Tournament at Kenai Central. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Kenai's Daniel Gustkey takes a shot over Kodiak's Curtis Catt and Michael Thomas in the first quarter Thursday night at the Northern Lights Conference Basketball Tournament at Kenai Central.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The recent torrid play of Kenai’s Nate Saltzgiver made Kodiak’s defensive plan obvious.

“If someone beat us, it had to be someone other than Saltzgiver,” said Bears’ coach Ron Bryant.

Well, there’s always next time.

The junior scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and junior Nate Byrd was 5-of-10 from the floor for 10 points as the Kardinals overcame a six-point third-quarter deficit in edging Kodiak, 62-54, in the opening round of the Northern Lights Conference tournament on the newly-named Cliff Massie Court at Kenai Central High School on Thursday.

“Anytime you beat Kodiak it’s a good thing because Kodiak’s a well-coached basketball team and they play hard,” said Kenai coach Jim Beeson, whose team fell to the Bears by one point on Feb. 23. “If you can match their energy, then you have a chance to play with them. I was happy that we did that.”

After nailing two of his first three shots in the opening frame and only one of four in the second, Saltzgiver kept second-seeded Kenai afloat in the third after falling behind in the opening minutes of the period.

Trailing by two, the captain sank a free throw, consecutive 3-pointers and a slicing lay-up before Kodiak’s Trevor Norton canned a trey at the buzzer for a five-point Bears’ lead entering the fourth.

“Saltzgiver’s a heck of a guy. He can create his own shots and if you leave him open he can catch and shoot it. He can just do anything that the team needs from him,” Bryant said. “He’s an excellent team player. His outstanding play is what really put them over the top (Thursday).

“Saltzgiver had a good game but we didn’t think he could do it by himself.”

Byrd and Co. made sure he didn’t have to.

Saltzgiver’s fourth 3 of the contest to open the fourth made it a two-point game before two free throws from Daniel Gustkey knotted it up.

Again down by a bucket, junior Cory Toombs scored for the first time all night.

Suffering through an abysmal 0-for-6 performance, Toombs drove to the hoop and with his back to the basket, tossed the ball over his head and into the net while drawing the foul.

His third and last point of the game gave the Kardinals a 47-46 lead with 5:31 to play and they never let up.

“He thinks he’s going to score every time he gets the ball. He’s got a scorer’s mentality,” Beeson said of Toombs. “Sometimes it gets him in trouble and he forces a few things, but he thinks he is going to score every time he has the ball and he doesn’t shy away from it, which is a good thing.”

Byrd then overcame a 1-for-5 performance by sinking his next four shots — including an acrobatic, one-handed lay-in with 2:49 remaining —and the Kardinals hit 4-of-7 fouls shots in the final minute to advance to the next round where they’ll take on top-seeded Wasilla at 5:45 p.m. today.

“(Byrd’s) more than capable of doing that. I tell him all the time, he just has to just play and react and don’t think too much. When he starts thinking about things, that’s when he gets himself in trouble,” he said. “If he just catches the ball and goes hard and plays hard like that, he’s a very athletic kid and is as good a scorer as anybody we have on the team.”

Despite trailing 10-0 early and 15-5 after eight minutes, Kodiak junior Raivis Strelnieks poured in eight of his team-high 21 points in the second, as the Bears shot an impressive 67 percent (8-of-12) from the field in trimming the deficit to 24-23 at halftime.

“Even though we were down 10, I thought we were playing a decent ballgame,” Bryant said. “We calmed it down and told them just take care of the ball, put the shots in and we’d be able to play with them and come back. And we were able to do that.”

An amazing shooting display in the third (9-of-11) and a dominant inside game throughout the contest put third-seeded Kodiak in front by as many six with 5:18 left in the third, but Saltzgiver’s hot hand kept Kenai close.

Playing at home may have put the Kardinals over the edge.

“I think it was big. I think what really helped, too, was playing Soldotna last week and playing them here. Winning that basketball game we knew what it was like. The crowd was just as big last week, it was just as loud and crazy. I think it really helped us,” Beeson explained. “Any time you’re playing at home, you’re sleeping in your own bed, friendly rims, you know what it’s like. It’s definitely an advantage for us.”

Soldotna 50, Palmer 41

The Stars, the No. 1 seed from the south, showed their depth against the Moose, the No. 4 seed from the south.

Soldotna played all 12 of the players on its roster, and 10 of those players landed in the scoring column. The only to break double figures was Brook Carver with 11 points. Palmer’s TJ Fullmer led all scorers with 15 points.

Wasilla boys 66, Homer 41

The Wasilla boys, the top seed from the north, cruised past Homer, the No. 4 seed from the south.

University of Alaska Fairbanks recruit Jesse Bean had 20 points to lead all scorers, while Tyler Johannes added 12. For Homer, Michael Fielding and Noah McWilliams each had 10 points.

Colony boys 66, Skyview 37

The Knights, the No. 2 seed from the north, held the Panthers, the No. 3 seed from the south, to 12 points in the first half to pick up the victory.

Doug Gray and Jaron Murphy had 12 points for Colony, , while John Palmer had 11 points and Ryan Coffman had 10. Rich Shirnberg had 17 points for Skyview to lead all scorers.

Thursday boys

KARDINALS 62, BEARS 54

Kodiak 5 18 19 12 —54

Kenai 15 9 13 25 —62

KODIAK (54) — Catt 5 0-0 10, Cratty 1 0-0 2, Alegado 1 0-0 2, Norton 1 1-2 3, Thomas 4 0-0 9, Merick 2 1-2 5, Sweeney 1 0-0 2, Bryant 0 0-2 0, Strelnieks 9 2-4 21. Totals — 24 4-10 54.

KENAI (62) — Saltzgiver 7 4-6 22, Toombs 1 1-1 3, Libert 0 0-0 0, Beeson 3 0-1 8, Ellis 3 3-4 9, Gustkey 1 3-5 6, Byrd 4 0-0 10, Chimphalee 2 0-0 4. Totals — 21 11-17 62.

3-point goals — Kodiak 2 (Thomas 1, Strelnieks 1), Kenai 9 (Saltzgiver 4, Beeson 2, Byrd 2, Gustkey 1). Team fouls — Kodiak 16, Kenai 16. Fouled out — none.

WARRIORS 66, MARINERS 41

Wasilla 17 16 18 15 —66

Homer 13 7 4 17 —41

WASILLA (66) — Bean 8 0-0 20, Gray 0 0-0 0, Kroon 0 0-0 0, Pearce 2 0-0 4, Johannes 5 1-2 12, Collins 1 0-0 3, Troshynski 2 0-0 4, Green 3 0-0 6, Stearman 3 0-0 6, Orr 0 5-6 5, Williams 3 0-0 6. Totals — 27 6-8 66.

HOMER (41) — Ketelle 0 0-0 0, Sutherland 1 1-1 4, Edens 0 0-0 0, Leman 1 0-0 3, Tutt 1 0-0 2, Gilbert 1 1-2 3, Trieweiler 1 0-0 2, Layland 2 3-4 7, Fielding 5 0-1 10, McWilliams 4 2-2 10. Totals — 16 7-10 41.

3-point goals — Wasilla 6 (Bean 4, Johannes 1, Collins 1), Homer 2 (Sutherland 1, Leman 1). Team fouls — Wasilla 15, Homer 13. Fouled out — none.

KNIGHTS 66, PANTHERS 37

Colony 20 17 13 16 —66

Skyview 6 6 17 8 —37

COLONY (66) — Zagers 0 1-2 1, Higgins 2 2-2 6, Murphy 5 2-2 12, Muton 0 2-2 2, Palmer 5 0-0 11, Scott 2 2-3 6, Niver 0 2-2 2, Gray 5 0-0 12, Coffman 4 2-4 10, Price 0 0-2 0, Moseley 2 0-0 4. Totals — 25 13-19 66.

SKYVIEW (37) — Thornton 0 0-0 0, West 1 0-0 2, Dallman 2 0-0 4, Hatten 1 3-3 5, Malatesta 0 0-0 0, Nelson 0 0-0 0, Bosick 2 1-2 5, Blossom 1 2-3 4, Singleton 0 0-0 0, Shirnberg 7 3-5 17. Totals — 14 9-13 37.

3-point goals — Colony 3 (Gray 2, Palmer 1). Team fouls — Colony 17, Skyview 18. Fouled out — Bosick.



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