The Nikiski High School girls basketball team opened the 3A state championships with a loss, dropping a 42-31 decision to the Monroe Catholic Rams Thursday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
In other games involving Kenai Peninsula teams Thursday, the Seward Seahawks lost their 3A bracet opener 48-45 to Valdez while the Homer Mariners dropped a 61-26 game to Lathrop in the 4A competition.
The Nikiski girls suffered through a tough first half in which they got just two of 22 shots from the floor to fall and went 0-for-4 from the foul line.
"We came out a little tentative," Nikiski coach Ward Romans said. "I can't explain why. We had great practices leading up to this game."
The Bulldogs picked things up in the second half, pulling to within eight points after trailing 21-5 at halftime. Sarah Herrin led the Bulldogs charge picking up 18 points for the game to go with 13 rebounds.
"We had an outstanding second half," Romans said. "That's the type of basketball I expected us to play all game."
Monroe was able to run time off the clock thorugh the fourth quarter, though, stalling Nikiski's rally.
Carolyn Berg scored 13 points to lead the Rams.
The Bulldogs next face Dillingham today in the consolation bracket. Tipoff is slated for 9:40 a.m.
Valdez 48, Seward 45
The Buccaneers took advantage of Seward's sluggish start, jumping out to a 19-8 lead after the first quarter, then hung on through the second half to bump the Seahawks to the consolation bracket.
"We didn't play well the whole day," said Seward coach Roger Steinbrecher. "We had a slow start and we didn't execute the offense too well at all. We outrebounded them, but we just weren't putting things together."
The Seahawks did climb back from their early deficit and led by two points, 37-35, in the fourth quarter. Steinbrecher said if his squad had netted one more basket, things might have gone Seward's way, but the Seahawks never could pull away.
"We'd make a defensive mistake, or foul and put them on the line. They hit their foul shots at the end and we didn't," Steinbrecher said.
Whitney Wright led the Buccaneers in scoring with 12 points while Katie Blackburn scored 10 points.
Jenni Regis paced Seward with 16 points and Breanna Bardarson scored 13. Emma Seigel had nine rebounds for the Seahawks.
Steinbrecher said after such a great regular season, an opening-round loss at the state tournament was a hard pill to swallow.
"It was disappointing for everybody, but here we are at the state tournament. You have to recover and move on," Steinbrecher said.
Barrow 55, Mt. Edgecumbe 47
The Whalers topped the Braves in the first round of 3A competition.
Jesstinna Piggy Pili paced Barrow with 21 points, and the Whalers scored 29 points off of turnovers. Pili also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Bernadine Keyes scored 20 points and Ellie Jackson netted 17 for the Braves.
Petersburg 48, Dillingham 30
Three Petersburg players scored in double figures as the Vikings defeated the Wolverines.
Kayleigh Short paced the Vikings with 18 points, Britni Birchell scored 13 and pulled down 12 rebounds, and Katrina Berg scored 11 points to go with 11 rebounds. Iris Bowers led Dillingham with 14 points.
Class 4A girls
Lathrop 61, Homer 26
The Malemutes opened the game with a 14-3 first quarter in a first-round win.
The Mariners played better in the second quarter but were never able to make up the early deificit.
Channing Setterquist had nine points for the Mariners, who shot just 22 percent from the field.
Dimond 37, Colony 35
The Lynx edged the Knights, hanging on after squandering an early lead.
Dimond led 13-5 in the second quarter before Colony rallied to take a 16-15 lead at the half. The Lynx regained the lead in the third quarter, though, then held off Colony's fourth-quarter rally.
Zee Zee Young led the Lynx with nine poinst while Kristina Klapperich scored 16 for Colony.
Juneau-Douglas 49, Chugiak 39
The Crimson Bears put together a 21-6 third quarter to pull away from Chugiak. Juneau-Douglas trailed 17-15 at the half, but entered the third quarter leading 36-23.
Mary Rehfeld scored 11 points to lead the Crimson Bears while Letasha McKoy chipped in with 10.
Brihtani Lassiter paced the Mustangs with 14 points and Kelsey Griffen netted 10.
Wasilla 67, Service 32
The Warriors, who have lost in the state championship game the last two years, moved to the semifinals with a convincing victory.
Chandice Cronk had 22 points to lead the Warriors, while Hillarie Putnam and Laurel Creel added 10 points apiece.
Morgan Willis had 11 points for Service.
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