ANCHORAGE -- The Soldotna girls basketball team finally ran out of gas.
Short-handed and playing the role of underdog, the Stars fizzled after a strong first half in a 53-33 loss to Colony in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament Thursday evening at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The sixth-seeded Stars, making their first appearance at state since 2007, face South Anchorage at 9:45 a.m. Friday. Their Northern Lights Conference counterpart Colony gets defending state champ Juneau-Douglas in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday. Both games are at Sullivan.
"I felt like we played like a team that belonged at state," SoHi coach Mark Tuter said. "We ran out of gas there at the end a little bit, turned the ball over and missed a few shots."
SoHi, which suffered a 15-point loss to Colony earlier this season, played without starting point guard Kaili Sholin and key freshman Julie Litchfield. Both are on vacation.
Yet the Stars took an 11-5 lead into the second quarter and trailed 25-21 at halftime. A 10-2 run early in the third gave the Knights a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.
Colony used a variety of defenses and used a full-court press most of the second half, pestering SoHi's backup point guard, Kelci Benson.
"It was kind of a test -- 'What are they in now? What are they doing?'" Colony coach Derrick Osborne said of varying the defensive looks. "I think that frazzled them a little."
Both coaches agreed Colony's depth gave the Knights an advantage. Six players scored at least six points for the Knights, led by the 13 of Pherrari Bumbraugh, who hit 3-of-4 from the 3-point line and was named the player of the game.
Sisters Mary and Kaitlyn Klapperich chipped in seven apiece, as did Allison Leigh, while Saige Stefanski added eight. Gabrielle Menard was perfect from the field in scoring six.
SoHi, meanwhile, was led by the 13 of Becca Satathite, who also had seven rebounds. Kaillee Skjold added eight points and nine rebounds on a night when the Stars shot 11-of-35 from the field.
"I knew we were going to have to make shots," Tuter said. "In that second half, they kind of just stopped falling."
In the first quarter and into the second, the game fell SoHi's way.
The Stars scored 11 of the first 16 points and were 56 percent from the field over the first eight minutes. Although Colony scored 20 in the second, it was a four-point game at halftime.
Colony was 14 percent from the field in the first, but hovered close to 50 the rest of the way. The Stars finished with a 40-29 rebounding advantage, but the Knights hit five 3-pointers to SoHi's one.
Despite the outcome, Tuter and the players agreed it was a positive showing for SoHi, the lone 4A team from the central Kenai Peninsula to qualify for state.
"It was exciting," senior Jessie Duke said. "It was exhilarating, with all the lights, but we just got tired."
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