Nikiski girls show mettle vs. Homer

Posted: Sunday, December 10, 2006

Champions find ways to win.

Nikiski did it last year in the Class 3A state tournament, and they opened their girls basketball season with the same resolve Saturday afternoon.

Seniors Becca Carlson and Hannah Thompson triggered a steely fourth quarter comeback as the Bulldogs tipped Homer 41-38 in their season opener, pushing the program’s winning streak to 15 games over two seasons.

Carlson nailed a 3-pointer early in the final period to generate space in the Mariners’ defense, then dropped in a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left. Thompson anchored the defense with eight steals, scored a game-high 17 points and yanked 14 rebounds.

The Nikiski boys were not as fortunate in their opener, falling to a more talented Homer quintet 74-19.

Nikiski’s girls won despite shooting a miserable 23.8 percent (15 of 63) from the floor, getting beaten on the backboards 55-34 and having to find a collective answer for Homer’s 6-foot-3 Reba Temple. The Mariners’ junior center led her team with 25 rebounds, 14 points and four blocks, playing with a savvy that didn’t cause fouls but did show a struggling shooting touch.

“We knew what a great player she was,” Nikiski head coach Ward Romans said. “What is so impressive is she plays the post area and she doesn’t foul — she has a body awareness about her.

“Becca covered her most of the night, and she’s only 5-8. She did a good job of keeping her off the blocks, and limiting her to one shot. And then our team executed the game plan of collapsing down on her.”

Nikiski (1-0), which hosts Cook Inlet Academy Tuesday evening at 6, trailed by eight as late as the final minute of the third quarter. But Carlson’s dash through the lane for a bucket started the comeback and nine consecutive points, capped by a rebound basket from junior Tasha Thompson with 6:35 to play.

Romans said Carlson’s outside shot was pivotal in loosening Homer’s defense. The Bulldogs made one last rally, turning a five-point deficit into a 38-34 lead with Hannah Thompson highlighting the spree by draining a 3-pointer and converting a conventional three-point play on consecutive possessions.

“It came down to key plays at the end,” Romans said. “And we made plays at the end.”

Hannah Thompson added two steals in a five-minute stretch where the Mariners were held to 1-for-5 shooting and committed five turnovers. Mariners’ senior Claire Siekaniec snapped the skid and tied the game at 38 with 28 seconds to go by driving down the right side of the lane, opting for the bank shot instead of a lob toss to Temple on the other side of the lane.

Nikiski worked its offense patiently, and Carlson eventually came free for the game-winner from the right wing as the clock tumbled through the pensive final 10 seconds.

Temple was only 7 of 21 from the floor, limited to a mere four rebounds and three field goal attempts after Homer’s lead reached its pinnacle at 28-20 late in the third period.

“We lost three starters, so we’ve got kids in new roles,” Romans said. “We’re starting to get an awareness for how the pieces could fit together.”

Nikiski, of the Southcentral Conference, had only Thompson and Carlson in double figures scoring. Tasha Thompson added five rebounds.

Homer (1-1), of the Class 4A Northern Lights Conference, was 17-of-49 from the floor (34.7 percent) and got 11 points and seven rebounds from Siekaniec. Sophomore Jill Temple pulled 10 rebounds.

Homer boys 74, Nikiski 19

Senior Taylor Layland, a 6-4 low post player, scored 23 points and pulled in 10 rebounds to lead the Mariners’ boys in the season opener for each team.

Homer shot 52.6 percent from the floor (30-of-57), won the boards 45-15 and was never challenged after bolting in front 32-3. Nikiski failed to score for a 12-minute stretch of the first half, going 0-for-14 from the floor with 15 turnovers.

The Bulldogs, who next play after the holidays, trailed 17-3 after a quarter, 37-5 at intermission and 60-13 entering the final period. A continuous clock was run in the final eight minutes.

Nikiski shot 25 percent (8 for 32) and committed 29 turnovers. Senior Kenny Fagan led the Bulldogs with eight points and five rebounds.

Homer, which travels to Anchorage for Grace Christian’s three-day tournament starting Thursday, got scoring from each of nine players to enter the game. Burly senior Noah Williams scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and 5-foot-11 swing player Deonte Powe added 10 points and six boards.

Girls

BULLDOGS 41, MARINERS 38

Homer 12 7 9 10 —38

Nikiski 10 5 9 17 —41

HOMER (38) — Weaver 3 1-4 7, J. Temple 2 0-0 4, Devaney 0 0-0 0, Gavenus 0 2-2 2, Critchett 0 0-0 0, Siekaniec 5 1-2 11, R. Temple 7 0-1 14. Totals 17 4-10 38.

NIKISKI (41) — Romans 0 0-0 0, Carlson 5 0-0 12, Pritchard 1 0-0 2, Chadwick 0 3-6 3, H. Thompson 6 (2) 3-6 17, T. Thompson 2 0-0 5, Jorgensen 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 6-12 41.

3-point goals — Nikiski 5 (Carlson 2, H. Thompson 2, T. Thompson). Total fouls — Homer 15, Nikiski 11. Fouled out — none.

Boys

MARINERS 74, BULLDOGS 19

Homer 17 20 23 14 —74

Nikiski 3 2 8 6 —19

HOMER (74) — Williams 6 2-8 14,Ketelle 3 0-0 8, Sutherland 3 0-2 6, Edens 0 1-2 1, Leman 2 0-0 4, Tutt 2 3-6 7, Anderson 0 1-2 1, Powe 4 0-0 10, Layland 10 3-4 23. Totals 30 10-24 74.

NIKISKI (19) — Olson 1 0-1 2, Smith 2 0-0 5, Fagan 3 2-7 8, Vance 0 0-0 0, Payment 2 0-1 4, Burns 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 2-9 19.

3-point goals — Homer 4 (Ketelle 2, Powe 2), Nikiski 1 (Smith). Total fouls — Homer 12, Nikiski 18. Fouled out — none.



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