While the Kenai Central High School girls and the Soldotna boys were unable to notch a win at the Alaska School Activities Association State 4A Basketball Championships, both teams left the tournament with a feeling of accomplishment.
"It was a great experience to come up here and play -- and we had fun," said Soldotna's Mike Metteer. "Regions, everybody goes to that. To make it to state is pretty special and our team hasn't been here for a while."
The Stars dropped their Friday consolation-round game 61-46 to the Palmer Moose while the Kardinals lost their consolation game by two points, 34-32, to the Colony Knights.
"It's hard to lose two games, but it was definitely worthwhile," Metteer said.
Soldotna put together a solid first half against the Moose, taking a 25-22 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Moose overtook the Stars in the second half, though, shooting 55 percent from the floor while the Soldotna shooters cooled off from their first-half pace.
"We had a lot of penetration, good backdoor cuts and good passing," Metteer said. "In the second half, we laid off of that and that's when they came back."
"We played two tough games and had two good runs at it," Soldotna's Nick Christensen said.
Christensen scored 15 points for the Stars while Shaun Williams poured in 12 points.
"Just the experience of playing in the state tournament -- most people never get that chance," Christensen said. "When you get to state, everyone wants to win. Some of these teams -- like Kodiak -- might be a champion, but we've played them tough. We can hang with most teams in the state. We just couldn't put it all together here."
Soldotna's Pat Hardina said that just playing in the Sullivan Arena was a unique experience.
"It's the atmosphere," Hardina said. "There's a lot of people you're playing in front of that have never seen you play before. You want to leave them with something special."
The Kardinals would have liked to leave the state tournament with a victory to their credit.
"It was good to make it to state, but our coaches told us we shouldn't just be satisfied with that. We wanted to win games while we were here," said Kenai's Jamie Montgomery. "I wish we could have won a game to prove that we deserved to be here, that it wasn't a fluke."
Kenai held a 14-10 lead over Colony at the half, but the Knights went on an 11-6 run in the third quarter and wound up winning by two.
"It was a good game. I felt satisfied with it. We played hard, we just didn't get our shots to fall. Two points is hard to lose by," said Kenai senior Jessi Reilly. "The last time we came up here, my sophomore year, we lost by 20 both games -- that was hard. (This year) I felt like we could play with everybody."
Montgomery scored eight points for the Kardinals, as did teammate Erica Shinn. Reilly netted five points in her final game for the Kardinals.
"We worked very hard in both our games. That's what kept us in them," Montgomery said. "It just came down to some fundamental things."
Reilly said she expects the Kardinals to be back at the state tournament next season and that her teammates will use the experience from this year's tournament to their advantage.
"For them to be more successful next year, they had to come this year and get the jitters out," Reilly said.
MOOSE 61, STARS 46
Soldotna 15 10 9 12 -- 46
Palmer 9 13 17 22 -- 61
SOLDOTNA (46) -- Kelley 2 0-0 4, Williams 6 0-0 12, Simpson 0 0-0 0, Christensen 6 0-0 15, Hardina 0 0-0 0, Kiffmeyer 2 3-3 7, Zeyer 0 0-0 0, Metteer 2 2-2 6, Morris 1 0-2 2, Rose 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 19 5-7 46.
PALMER (61) -- Bentti 0 0-0 0, Rapp 0 0-0 0, Forsyth 1 0-0 2, Arcala 0 0-0 0, Pettit 4 1-4 9, Perkins 3 2-4 8, Hooker 8 7-12 23, Dubois 0 0-0 0, Nielsen 7 2-2 17, Bryant 1 0-0 2, Chapman 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 24 12-22 61.
3-point goals -- Soldotna 3 (Christensen), Palmer 1 (Nielsen). Total fouls -- Soldotna 16, Palmer 10. Fouled out -- none.
KNIGHTS 34, KARDINALS 32
Kenai 8 6 6 12 -- 32
Colony 4 6 11 13 -- 34
KENAI (32) -- Knudsen 0 3-4 3, Reilly 2 0-0 5, Montgomery 4 0-1 8, Edwards 1 0-0 2, Hall 1 0-0 2, Shinn 4 0-0 8, Erin Smith 1 0-0 2, Erica Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 14 3-5 32.
COLONY (34) -- Colberg 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0, Quinn 4 0-0 8, Menard 1 0-2 2, Thaggard 0 0-0 0, Beckman 4 4-5 12, Gatto 1 0-0 2, Klapperich 3 4-5 10, Murphy 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 13 8-12 34.
3-point goals -- Kenai 1 (Reilly), Colony 0. Total fouls -- Kenai 11, Colony 5. Fouled out -- none.
HEAD:Kodiak boys, T-Birds girls take state titles
The Kodiak Bears boys basketball team silenced all who doubted them as they toppled the giant of basketball Saturday --the East Thunderbirds.
The Bears became the newest 4A boys basketball state champions and hushed a once-vocal crowd of East supporters as they downed the T-Birds 55-52.
The Bears followed the scoring abilities of Curtis Mortenson, who poured in 15 points, while 6-foot-11 giant Nick Billings added 14 and Phil Nisbett added 12 to boost the Bears to victory.
The T-Birds could not find the ability to stop the Bears as they stumbled and fell in the title match. The T-Birds followed the scoring leadership of Vannick Evina-Za with 15 points, Ricky Brown, who had 12, and G. J. Macon, who added 11. The T-Birds kept the game close, but could not overcome the power of Kodiak's scoring machines.
The Dimond Lynx clawed their way to the third-place trophy as they tamed the Chugiak Mustangs with a 66-54 whipping.
Dimond followed the scoring prowess of Brandon Joseph, who pounded the bucket with 18 points, while teammate Joe Chirhart added 17 and Todd Brady added 14 to propel the Lynx to victory. The Mustangs couldn't find the points needed to stop the Lynx even behind the dominate scoring ability of Adam Fitt-Chappell, who led the game with 19 points.
The fourth-place award will be heading home with the Lathrop Malemutes as they edged out the Palmer Moose to claim a 89-82 victory.
The Malemutes out paced the Moose in scoring as Norman Edwards piled together 25 points to lead Lathrop while Cameron Watts added 23, Ivan Snowden pitched in 12 and David Hall notched 10 points to lead their squad to the fourth-place victory. The Moose followed the scoring abilities of C.J. Hooker, who had 29 points, while Zac Forsyth added 25 and Zach Pettit chipped in 14 in the losing effort.
Class 4A girls
The East Thunderbirds pounded their way past the Lathrop Malemutes to claim the No. 1 ranking of the big schools in Alaska Saturday.
The T-Birds smashed their way to a 54-35 spanking of the Malemutes as Azella Perryman scored 25 points, Tenecia Macon chipped in 14 and Natalie Jones poured in 10 to boost the T-Birds to an undefeated season and the title of state champion. The Malemutes followed the scoring ability of their only player to score into double digits. Aquanita Burres hit three 3-pointers and three from the floor for 15 points in the losing effort.
The third-place game found the Wasilla Warriors stomping the Bartlett High Golden Bears into the dust with a 44-28 clubbing Saturday.
The Warriors followed the scoring leadership of Tonya James, who poured in 12 points, while teammate Brittney Kroon towered over her opponents and poured in 10 points to lead Wasilla to victory. The Golden Bears stumbled behind the team-high scoring of Chantel Frazier, who managed 13 points in the losing effort, as Bartlett High headed for home with the fifth-place award tucked under the collective arm of the team.
The Ketchikan King Salmon swam away with the fourth-place ranking as they drubbed the Colony Knights with a 49-35 loss.
The King Salmon followed Cassie White, who sank six from the floor to lead her squad with 14 points, while Kelly Nausid and Deanna Mallman added 10 for the win. The Knights were not able to get the motivation needed to catch the Salmon as Ketchikan prevented any Colony player from scoring into double digits.
Class 3A boys
The Grace Christian Grizzlies rolled through the majority of their regular season and playoff opponents and didn't bother to hit the brakes Saturday as they collided with the Anchorage Christian Lions Saturday.
The Grizzlies put together a 69-52 win over the Lions as Hans Tulip poured in 27 points while Justin Libby notched 16 points and teammate Jason Hofseth added 13 to help propel the Grizzlies to a repeat state title. The Lions followed Mike Crawford and Adam Lewis, who had 14 points each, while fellow Lion Buddy Bailey added 11 in the loss.
The fight for fourth place found the Nome Nanooks pulling out a 57-41 victory over the Valdez Buccaneers.
Harold O'Conner led the Nanooks with 23 points while teammate Kerry Brunette added 15 and Joseph Musich pitched in 13 to propel Nome to victory. The Buccaneers needed more points than supplied by their squad even as Todd Eide poured in 26 points. Eide was the only Valdez player to score in double digits.
Third-place action found the Wrangell Wolves pulling out all of the stops and pounding the Craig Panthers 79-66.
The Wolves followed the scoring power of Angerman, who poured in 34 points, while Cole Appleman chipped in 28 and Randy Churchill added 10 to help in the win. The Panthers relied heavily on the scoring abilities of Craig Carter, who found the hole for 24 points, and Ryan Savage, who added 20. Teammate Ryan Jones added 14 points in the losing effort as Craig settled with fifth place.
Class 3A girls
The Valdez Buccaneers pulled out a tight win in a low scoring championship game to become the undisputed No. 1 3A girls team in Alaska Saturday.
Valdez handed the Ben Eielson Ravens a 36-31 loss as Keyshen Gibbs poured in 10 points to lead the Buccaneers to the win. The Ravens followed Janay Deloach and Denisha Lamb with 11 points apiece as Eielson walked away with the 3A girls second-place trophy.
Third-place action found the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves scalping the Bethel Warriors with a 52-38 loss.
The Braves followed the potent attack of Adrienne Taalak, who poured in 21 points, while teammate Melanie Beans added 12 and Prema Warren added 10 to propel Mt. Edgecumbe to victory. Bethel struggled even as Kenlynn Nicholai poured in 16 points as the Warriors only player to score in double digits.
Fourth place action found the Nikiski Bulldogs and the Seward Seahawks fighting it out (see related story Page B-1) with the Bulldogs walking away with the win.
CAPTION:Nikiski's Sally Glaze, front, pushes past Seward's Paula Banic during the fourth-place game in the ASAA State 3A Basketball Championships Saturday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Nikiski won 47-40 in overtime.
HEAD:Bulldogs come back to take fourth at state hoops tourney
By WILL MORROW
After the Nikiski High School girls basketball team dropped its first-round game at the Alaska School Activities Association State 3A Championship, the Bulldogs knew they would be leaving the tournament feeling less than satisfied.
Though they lost the game, the Bulldogs didn't lose their pride and, after trailing for the better part of four quarters, Nikiski rallied to beat Seward 47-40 in overtime to claim fourth place Saturday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
"It hurts now," Nikiski coach Ward Romans said following Saturday's game. "We invest so much, we set high goals. As a coach, I can say I'm proud of this group. They showed character and courage by winning these two games -- because there is no banner, there is no trophy (for fourth place)."
The Bulldogs made it to Saturday's matchup with Seward -- the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams -- by defeating Haines 57-23 in Friday's consolation round.
Seward, 68-46 winners over Barrow in their consolation game, came out of the gate flying against the Bulldogs. The Seahawks had the Bulldogs playing catchup for 29 minutes -- Nikiski held a brief 7-5 lead late in the first quarter and did not get out in front again until Laura Berdahl took a pass into the low post and found the basket with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter, giving her team a 29-28 lead.
"We were playing a matchup two-three zone," said Seward coach Roger Steinbrecher. "The key was knowing where their shooters were and trying to keep them covered. The defense worked in combination with the fact that (Nikiski) had a tough shooting day."
In fact, Nikiski was 3-of-18 from the floor in the first half -- not quite 17 percent -- and Seward owned the boards until the fourth quarter.
"They seemed to be taking me and Laura out of the game," said Nikiski's Karen Rabung. "They were doubling down on us every time we got the ball."
Seward's Tara Ganser was a force in the lane, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Bulldogs bounced back in the fourth quarter, finding some success feeding Rabung and Berdahl in the low post.
Nikiski and Seward traded leads in the closing two minutes of regulation, with a rebound and put-back by Berdahl knotting the score at 33 as the fourth quarter expired.
The Bulldogs wasted little time getting the ball back to the post to open the four-minute overtime, feeding Rabung for two points in the opening seconds.
April Lofstedt kept the Bulldogs on top during the overtime, going 6-for-6 from the foul line during that stretch.
"We shoot every morning before school and so much in practice, it's just natural," Lofstedt said of her clutch free-throw shooting.
Berdahl and Sally Glaze each scored 12 points for the Bulldogs while Rabung finished with eight points. Paula Banic scored 11 for the Seahawks, including the game's only 3-pointer to tie the score at 36 early in overtime.
The Bulldogs and the Seahawks played Saturday's game like it was the championship game -- something that seemed probable when the tournament bracket was drawn up.
"Two weeks ago, the goal was to get here. Once we got here, the goal was to win," Steinbrecher said. "Both of these teams are good enough to be playing in the finals. Instead, we ended up playing each other for fourth place."
"We had a lingering feeling from the loss to Eielson," Romans said. "Hopefully, we exorcised it. ... I will not allow one loss to define this team. It's going to hurt for a while, but the key is for the kids coming back to use this as motivation. And Laura Berdahl, who has been one of the nicest kids I've coached, we sent her off with a win."
"It was tough to go in there and play our last game against Seward when we were still thinking about our first game," Berdahl said. "We knew it was going to be a tough first game -- after that game, we still wanted to do the best we could."
Finishing with a pair of wins in the state tournament softened the blow of falling short of a state title, but the Bulldogs were disappointed to fall short of their own expectations.
"I don't think the pain is ever going to go away," Glaze said. "I'm disappointed. We worked really hard this season. At least we had two more opportunities."
BULLDOGS 47, SEAHAWKS 40 OT
Nikiski 7 4 9 13 14 -- 47
Seward 7 8 10 8 7 -- 40
NIKISKI (47) -- Gillaspie 0 0-0 0, Weaver 2 0-0 4, Lofstedt 0 6-7 6, Rabung 3 2-4 8, Carr 0 1-2 1, Glaze 1 10-15 12, Cason 2 0-0 4, Berdahl 6 0-0 12. Totals -- 14 19-28 47.
SEWARD (40) -- Banic 5 0-0 11, Ganser 2 0-3 4, Carr 3 2-7 8, Regis 0 0-0 0, Banse 2 1-2 5, Fisher 3 2-2 8, Hetrick 0 0-0 0, DeRuwe 2 0-0 4, Linville 0 0-0 0, Dieckgraeff 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 17 5-14 40.
3-point goals -- Nikiski 0, Seward 1 (Banic). Total fouls -- Nikiski 16, Seward 21. Fouled out -- Banic.
Seward girls 68, Barrow 46
Ruth Banse scored 12 points while teammate Carri Fisher came up with 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Seahawks defeated Barrow in the consolation round.
Erin Carr added 11 points for the Seahawks, who overwhelmed the Whalers with a 17-5 run in the first quarter.
SEAHAWKS 68, WHALERS 46
Seward 17 13 19 19 -- 68
Barrow 5 15 16 10 -- 46
SEWARD (68) -- Boulden 0 0-0 0, Banic 2 2-2 6, Bardarson 1 0-0 2, Ganser 2 5-6 9, Carr 4 2-3 11, Regis 0 2-2 2, Banse 5 2-4 12, Fisher 4 0-0 10, Hetrick 2 0-0 4, DeRuwe 2 1-2 5, Linville 1 1-2 3, Dieckgraeff 1 2-2 4. Totals -- 24 17-23 68.
BARROW (46) -- Leavitt 5 0-0 10, B. Fischer 0 0-0 0, Edwardsen 1 2-4 5, Sakeagak 0 0-0 0, Thomas 1 0-0 2, Suvlu 4 1-1 9, Contrades 2 0-0 6, Dingman 4 0-0 8, A. Fischer 0 0-0 0, Brower 0 0-2 0, Alred 2 2-2 6, Oleman 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 19 5-9 46.
3-point goals -- Seward 3 (Fischer 2, Carr), Barrow 3 (Contrades 2, Edwardsen). Total fouls -- Seward 6, Barrow 16. Fouled out -- B. Fischer.
Nikiski girls 57, Haines 23
The Bulldogs took out a little bit frustration over Thursday's loss on the Glacier Bears in Friday's consolation round.
Laura Berdahl led the Bulldogs with 24 points while Sally Glaze picked up 14 points and seven assists and Karen Rabung chipped in with 11 points.
BULLDOGS 57, GLACIER BEARS 23
Haines 5 6 2 10 -- 23
Nikiski 10 19 18 10 -- 57
HAINES (23) -- Fossman 1 0-0 2, Li. Sele 4 4-7 12, Ward 0 0-0 0, Lo. Sele 3 0-2 6, Jones 0 0-0 0, Gross 0 0-0 0, Nye 0 0-0 0, Falcon 1 0-0 3. Totals -- 9 4-9 23.
NIKISKI (57) -- Floyd 0 0-0 0, Gillaspie 0 0-0 0, Weaver 1 0-0 2, Lofstedt 0 0-0 0, Rabung 5 1-4 11, Carr 0 0-0 0, Glaze 5 3-4 14, Cason 2 0-2 4, Berdahl 10 3-4 24. Totals -- 24 7-14 57.
3-point goals -- Haines 1 (Falcon), Nikiski 2 (Glaze, Berdahl). Total fouls -- Haines 11, Nikiski 14. Fouled out -- none.
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