Bulldogs rip away 4th at state

Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nikiski’s 3-point shooting probably cost it a victory in the opening round.

It then helped the Bulldogs win their next two games.

After a 1-for-16 performance from beyond the arc in a setback to eventual 3A girls champion Barrow, the Bulldogs canned seven 3s in a 40-33 victory over Mt. Edgecumbe on Friday and then nailed six in defeating Cordova, 50-40, on Saturday for fourth place at the University of Alaska Anchorage Sports Center.

Used to playing in the title game, Nikiski (22-5) lingered through a rough opening quarter against Mt. Edgecumbe before playing like a championship-caliber squad the rest of the way.

“That’s kind of the mental makeup of this group. They’re a mentally tough group, really coachable and really care about each other,” coach Ward Romans said. “They snapped back really quickly and I would have expected it from them.”

It appeared the 37-36 loss to Barrow was on the Bulldogs’ minds early in the game against Mt. Edgecumbe, as they hit only 2-of-13 shots in falling behind 10-5 after eight minutes.

“I don’t want to say it did, but I’m sure it did,” Romans said of the loss affecting his team’s play. “I mean the girls really wanted to be playing in the 3:30 p.m. semifinal game (Friday). I think we did come out a little bit slow (Friday) but this is just typical of this team.

“They responded. They responded in a big way.”

Did they ever.

Led by five points from sophomore Shalene Peek, Nikiski strung together a 9-1 run to close the opening half up by four.

Then they rediscovered the long ball.

Three-pointers by senior Becca Carlson (11 points), senior Hannah Thompson (eight points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and junior Tasha Thompson stretched the lead to six with 3:06 left in the third.

“That’s what they were giving up,” Romans said. “After watching us (Thursday), they said, ‘OK. Let them shoot 3s.’ And they did, and we hit some.”

The Braves, on the other hand, went ice cold.

They missed their next 15 shots in a row but still trailed by only three with 1:32 remaining when Florence Nukusuk netted two of her team-high 10 points on a runner in the lane.

But Carlson quickly answered with a basket of her own and Eliza Chadwick added a layup, all but sealing the win.

“The team really stepped up and started playing collectively as a unit in the second half and I think we smothered almost everything they wanted to try and accomplish — high pick and roll, trying to break us down off the dribble,” Romans explained. “This whole weekend, our defense and our rebounding and effort has been fantastic. (Friday) we shot better from the 3-point line and that was the big difference.”

In the fourth-place tilt against Cordova on Saturday, the Bulldogs led by one after eight minutes before outscoring the Wolverines by seven in the second for a 22-14 halftime edge.

Cordova hung tough behind a game-high 20 points from Leisha Anderson, but was outscored by one point in each of the final two quarters and also lost the battle of the boards, 39-31.

“Our goal’s 35,” Romans said. “We think if we can get 35 rebounds a game, then that puts us in a great a position playing defense. All year that’s been one of our goals.”

Another driving force behind the Bulldogs recent success has been the play of seniors Thompson, Carlson, Kyla Jorgensen and Sherra Pritchard. Thompson and Carlson were named to the all-tournament team.

Saturday was no different.

Thompson turned in eight points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals, Carlson netted 14 points, Jorgensen had six and Pritchard five.

They weren’t the only contributors, though.

Tasha Thompson scored 11 points and Rachel Romans pulled down seven rebounds.

But it’s the seniors that will be sorely missed next season.

“I’m very, very, very proud of them. They had a great season,” Romans said. “We didn’t lose. We got beat. I would feel bad if we got beat by a team that we shouldn’t have. Barrow played an outstanding game. It came down to a last shot. They were fortunate enough to win. They deserved it.

“But for us to respond the last two games — these group of seniors on this team will leave a great legacy for our program.”

Matthew Carroll can be reached at matthew.carroll@peninsulaclarion.com.

Friday girls

Bulldogs 40, Braves 33

Mt. Edgecumbe 10 3 11 9 —33

Nikiski 5 12 12 11 —40

MT. EDGECUMBE (33) — Beaver 0 0-0 0, Weber 0 1-2 1, Redfox 1 1-3 3, Ivanoff 0 0-0 0, Akaran 1 2-5 4, Lopez 3 0-5 8, Wallace 1 0-1 3, Thomas 2 0-1 4, Nukusuk 4 2-4 10, Pingayak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 6-21 33.

NIKISKI (40) — Romans 1 0-0 2, Carlson 4 0-0 11, Pritchard 0 0-0 0, Chadwick 3 0-0 7, H. Thompson 2 2-6 8, T. Thompson 1 1-2 4, Jorgensen 0 1-3 1, Peek 3 1-1 7. Totals: 14 5-12 40.

3-pointers — Mt. Edgecumbe 3 (Lopez 2, Wallace 1), Nikiski 7 (Carlson 3, H. Thompson 2, Chadwick 1, T. Thompson 1). Fouls — Mt. Edgecumbe 16, Nikiski 22. Fouled out — Carlson.

Saturday girls

Bulldogs 50, Wolverines 40

Cordova 11 3 16 10 —40

Nikiski 12 10 17 11 —50

CORDOVA (40) — Anderson 6 6-7 20, Webber 0 0-0 0, Smith 1 0-0 2, Roemhildt 1 0-0 2, Kelly 2 1-2 5, Merritt 0 1-2 1, Hawley 5 0-0 10. Totals: 15 8-11 40.

NIKISKI (50) — Romans 1 0-0 2, Carlson 5 1-2 14, Pritchard 2 0-2 5, Chadwick 1 2-2 4, H. Thompson 2 4-8 8, T. Thompson 3 3-4 11, Jorgensen 1 4-6 6. Totals: 15 14-24 50.

3-pointers — Cordova 2 (Anderson 2), Nikiski 6 (Carlson 3, T. Thompson 2, Pritchard 1). Fouls — Cordova 16, Nikiski 13. Fouled out — Kelly.

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