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Colony girls top SoHi to advance to finals

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2008

After a brief hiatus, the Colony girls are headed back to the state tournament.

The Knights grabbed one of the Northern Lights Conference's three automatic bids with a 55-46 win over the Soldotna Stars during the semifinal round of the NLC tournament at Palmer High School on Friday.

"That's certainly one of our goals," Colony head coach Don Witzel said after the win.

Last season, Colony failed to qualify for the Class 4A state tourney for the first time in 13 years.

Junior Allie Grazulis led the Knights with a game-high 20 points. Grazulis collected six field goals and finished 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.

"Allie really kept us in it," Witzel said.

Senior Hayley Hotchkiss scored 11 points for Colony, while junior Kara Larson added 10.

While Colony did lead by as much as seven points in the first half and walked off the court with a nine-point victory, the Knights did have to overcome the Stars' aggressive defensive effort.

"They did a great job defensively, and we didn't do a good job of handling the pressure," Witzel said.

Soldotna's pressure was especially apparent early. The Stars forced turnovers on five straight Colony possessions in the early moments of the first quarter.

Witzel said Soldotna's defensive play caused the Knights to be a bit scattered at points, and the Stars were able to use that strategy to keep the margin close for much of the game.

"We were able to battle through it," Witzel said.

Soldotna's pressure gave the Stars several extra opportunities on the offensive end during the first three quarters, but Colony was able to work its way to a few extra chances in the fourth.

With Colony holding a slim 44-42 lead midway through the fourth, Larson grabbed a rebound after a Colony missed free throw. The junior drew a foul on the play and was able to hit a free-throw attempt to push Colony's lead to 45-42. Seconds later, Larson grabbed the steal at half court and sent a quick feed to Grazulis, who got the easy bucket to give Colony the five-point lead.

Colony padded its lead at the free-throw line in the fourth. The Knights were 9-for-14 from the stripe in the final four minutes of regulation.

While Grazulis was the hero offensively, Witzel said the game ball goes to sophomore guard Megan Bowker.

"She did a great job defensively tonight," he said.

Following the loss of junior Tara Garrod, who suffered a season-ending wrist injury in a win over Wasilla last week, Witzel has been looking for another defensive stopper. Garrod normally has the task of defending the opponent's point guard, and that's what Bowker did against the Stars. The sophomore guard had her hands full with Soldotna point guard Karen Senette, but the Knights held the speedy and crafty guard to just two field goals.

Senette did hit a team-high seven free throws in the game.

Soldotna forward Karen Duffy was able to do the most damage against the Knights, scoring all 12 of her points in the first three quarters. Soldotna is normally led underneath by all-conference forward Paige Blackburn, and Witzel said sometimes when a team focuses so much on stopping a player like Blackburn, another can strike.

Wasilla girls 50, Palmer 31

The Warriors used solid defense to earn a spot in the state tournament and the conference championship.

Wasilla, the defending conference and state champion, jumped out to a 10-1 lead after one period and the Moose never caught up. Jenna Johnson had 19 points for the Warriors, while Shelby Fulton added 15. For the Moose, Maddie Cox had 10 points.

Colony boys 68, Kodiak 30

Jaron Murphy had 14 points as Colony's stingy defense stifled the Bears and put the Knights in the finals.

John Palmer had 11 points for Colony, while Grant Niver added 10. For Kodiak, David Cratty had 12 points while Jon Bryant had 10 points.

Kenai girls 45, Skyview 37

The Kardinals achieved their goal of winning a game at the conference tournament against the Panthers in the third-place quarterfinals. Skyview's season ended with the loss.

The game was tied at 14 at the half. Kenai Central was able to come out on top despite a monster second half by Skyview's Brittany Meyer. Meyer had 17 of her game-high 22 points in the second half. For Kenai, Kyla Steward had 14 points.

Kodiak girls 39, Homer 37

The Bears topped the Mariners for the third time in a week to end Homer's season and advance to the third-place semifinals.

After outscoring the Bears 9-2 in the third quarter, Homer had a 31-24 lead entering the final eight minutes. However, Kodiak held the Mariners without a field goal in the final quarter to secure the victory.

Alysa Horn paced the Bears with 11 ponits, while Reba Temple had 12 for Homer and Kasi DeVaney added 10.

Soldotna boys 72, Homer 30

The Stars cruised to the third-place semifinals and ended Homer's season.

Soldotna played tough defense all night, holding Homer to just eight points in the second half. SoHi's Larsen Kohler drained four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 18 points. Brad Blossom pitched in 11 points for the Stars. For Homer, Colten Tutt dumped in 10 points.

Palmer boys 64, Skyview 39

The Moose shook off the Panthers with an explosive third quarter to advance to the third-place semifinals and end Skyview's season.

Skyview trailed 21-19 after one quarter and 30-27 at halftime. Palmer ended the upset bid by outscoring the Panthers 25-6 in the third quarter.

Skyview's Chad Hatten played a big role in the Panthers' early success, scoring 13 first-half points. However, he would not score in the second half. Justin Draughon paced Palmer with 14 points, while T.J. Fullmer had 11 points.

Clarion and Frontiersman staff contributed to this report.

Friday girls

KNIGHTS 55, STARS 46

Soldotna 14 12 13 7 46

Colony 19 10 9 17 55

SOLDOTNA (46) Senette 2 7-8 11, Stenga 3 1-3 7, Dykstra 1 0-0 2, Heffner 2 0-0 4, Hardy 0 0-0 0, Duffy 6 0-0 12, Barker 0 2-2 2, Blackburn 4 0-0 8. Totals 18 10-13 46.

COLONY (55) Hamann 0 1-3 1, Hotchkiss 4 3-4 11, Ma. Bowker 1 0-0 3, Grazulis 6 8-10 20, Me. Bowker 0 2-2 2, Coon 4 0-0 8, Larsen 4 2-4 10. Totals 19 16-23 55.

3-point goals Colony 1 (Ma. Bowker 1). Team fouls Soldotna 19, Colony 14. Fouled out Blackburn, Coon.

KARDINALS 45, PANTHERS 37

Skyview 4 10 11 12 37

Kenai 9 5 15 16 45

SKYVIEW (37) Graves 0 0-1 0, O'Guinn 1 1-2 3, Massey 1 2-4 4, Can. Penrod 0 0-3 0, Cooper 0 1-2 1, Lucas 0 0-0 0, Perletti 1 0-0 2, Cas. Penrod 0 0-0 0, Stewart 2 1-2 5, Meyer 9 4-5 22, Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 9-19 37.

KENAI CENTRAL (45) Delaney 3 0-0 7, Coupchiak 1 0-1 2, Flanangan 2 1-2 5, Gabriel 0 1-2 1, Mills 1 1-3 4, Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Wortham 2 0-0 4, Stewart 4 6-7 14, Garcia 3 2-2 8. Totals 16 11-17 45.

3-point goals Kenai 2 (Delaney 1, Mills 1). Team fouls Skyview 16, Kenai 15. Fouled out Can. Penrod.

BEARS 39, MARINERS 37

Homer 12 10 9 6 37

Kodiak 13 9 2 15 39

HOMER (37) Weaver 1 0-3 2, Daugharty 0 8-11 8, DeVaney 5 0-0 10, Turner 1 0-0 2, Layland 1 3-6 5, Temple 5 2-4 12. Totals 12 13-24 37.

KODIAK (39) Garner 1 0-0 2, E. Horn 0 0-0 0, Norton 1 0-1 2, Keplinger 4 0-0 9, McCarty 3 2-2 8, A. Horn 4 3-6 11, Jones 2 1-1 5, Wendeborn 1 0-0 2, Timpke 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 6-10 39.

3-point goals Kodiak 1 (Keplinger 1). Team fouls Homer 14, Kodiak 16. Fouled out Daugharty, Keplinger.

Friday boys

STARS 72, MARINERS 30

Homer 12 10 4 4 30

Soldotna 20 19 17 16 72

HOMER (30) Gilbert 2 0-0 4, Rose 1 0-0 2, Parker 1 0-0 3, Griner 0 0-0 0, Brymer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Tutt 4 2-2 10, DeVaney 4 0-0 9, Wolford 0 0-0 0, Horazdovsky 0 0-0 0, Pate 0 2-4 2. Totals 12 4-6 30.

SOLDOTNA (72) Carver 0 0-0 0, Br. Blossom 4 2-2 11, Grubb 2 0-1 5, Bauder 2 0-0 5, Gr. Blossom 2 1-2 5, Geller 1 6-6 8, Barkman 1 3-4 5, Kohler 6 2-2 18, Andrus 1 0-3 2, Shelton 3 1-2 7. Totals 24 15-22 72.

3-point goals Homer 2 (Parker 1, DeVaney 1); Soldonta 7 (Kohler 4, Br. Blossom 1, Grubb 1, Bauder 1). Team fouls Homer 19, Soldotna 12. Fouled out none.

MOOSE 64, PANTHERS 39

Skyview 19 8 6 6 39

Palmer 21 9 25 9 64

SKYVIEW (39) Thornton 1 0-0 2, West 3 2-3 8, Hatten 6 0-0 13, Straume 0 0-0 0, Malatesta 0 0-0 0, Schadle 1 0-0 2, Cook 0 0-0 0, Harvey 3 1-2 8, Oakes 0 0-0 0, Shirnberg 2 2-2 6. Totals 16 5-7 39.

PALMER (64) Draughon 6 0-0 14, Gatto 4 0-0 9, Fullmer 4 0-0 11, Van Hoomissen 0 0-0 0, Hillis 2 2-2 6, Swetzof 3 0-1 7, Bohman 0 1-2 1, Bergeron 0 1-3 1, Odom 3 0-0 6, Jacobsen 3 3-6 9. Totals 27 7-14 64.

3-point goals Skyview 2 (Hatten 1, Harvey 1), Palmer 7 (Fullmer 3, Draughon 2, Gatto 1, Swetzof 1). Team fouls Skyview 14, Palmer 12. Fouled out Thornton.



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