Nikiski on Saturday proved it can come from behind to win.
The Bulldogs now showed they can maintain a big lead, too.
Three players scored in double figures and Nikiski pressured visiting Cook Inlet Academy into 31 turnovers, which resulted in more than half of the Bulldogs points in a convincing 58-14 nonconference win over the Eagles on Tuesday night at Nikiski High School.
The game was a mismatch from the get-go, with Nikiski (2-0) featuring five seniors and a pair of juniors to CIA's two juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
The handful of seniors demonstrated their veteran experience early and often, as Eliza Chadwick scored a game-high 15 points, Lacey Carlson and Samantha Rorrison netted 10, Rachel Romans added nine and Shalene Peek chipped in seven for Nikiski.
"We put together back-to-back games playing great defense and that's exciting," said Nikiski coach Ward Romans, referencing his team's comeback win over Homer on Saturday. "Your maturation with these older kids playing together, they come out their senior season and work really hard.
"It's a marathon. We've got three months," he added. "But I like where we're at right now. It's fun to watch them play this hard."
Technically, the Bulldogs second win of the season would also be classified as come-from-behind.
Trailing 2-0 when CIA junior Amie Smithwick scored two of her team-high 12 points to begin the game, Nikiski ran off 27 straight points spanning the first and second quarters -- including a first-quarter, buzzer-beating trey from Romans -- in snagging a commanding 27-2 lead with 5:27 to play in the first half.
Fifteen of those points came off turnovers, a direct result of Nikiski's swarming man-to-man defense which pressured the Eagles (0-1) into turnovers on five straight possessions and never allowed them to organize an offensive attack.
"That's going to be a calling card for us," Romans said of his squad's 30 points off turnovers. "This is a really deep team. I think we can play a lot of players to try to keep them fresh and tell them, 'Go hard because we're going to have someone in for you,' and they've bought into that."
Smithwick, though, ended a 9:39 drought with a 3-pointer that sliced the deficit to 22 and then sent her team into the locker room trailing by 20 when she drove hard to the right and added a layup with 57 seconds left.
"Unfortunately we're going to be leaning on her pretty heavy. But she needs to learn to trust her teammates," said first-year CIA coach Jason Hofseth. "Hopefully we'll make progress that she can lean on them a little bit, too. She's definitely our go-to player and she just needs to keep her head.
"I would venture to say that Amie was the best basketball player out there," he added. "She just needs to keep it together and know that the other girls are going to feed off of her."
The Bulldogs prevented the Eagles from hitting a field goal the entire second half (0-for-12), while ballooning their lead to 29 at the end of the third on the heels of six consecutive offensive rebounds that resulted in two points for Rorrison when she finally capitalized on her team's rebounding dominance.
Romans was pleased with the effort on the play, yet would rather have had it not come down to that many rebounds.
"When we play the top teams in the state," he said, "we're going to have to make sure and finish those."
Rachel Romans did just that in the fourth, opening the frame with four straight points and Kassi Johnson recorded her only bucket of the game 18 seconds later in stretching the lead to 49-14. Romans, Chadwick and Peek then capped the fourth-quarter scoring and a 7-for-15 performance from the field in the final frame.
Nikiski also owned a 46-10 advantage on the boards.
"That's what we're focusing on, trying to put four quarters together of great effort and great execution and then some nights the shots will fall and sometimes they just don't," said Romans, whose team was 3-for-17 in the second. "But if we can rebound the ball well, then we feel like that might neutralize whatever we end up shooting."
Hofseth knew Tuesday night's game wasn't going to be pretty. However, he still sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
"We've had seven practices with all of our girls and I think that that showed tonight," he explained. "We had a game plan and everything. It was just Nikiski, with five seniors, makes it difficult when they put a lot of pressure on your young guards and to stay focused and stay inside of things.
"Despite the score, I saw there's a lot of potential," Hofseth added. "So, I think we'll be OK in the long run. It's frustrating, but we'll be all right."
Cook Inlet boys 68 Nikiski 49
Senior Ryan Doyle scored a game-high 28 points, including 10 in the first quarter, and senior Shane Moffis added 12 in leading the visiting Eagles to a nonconference win over the Bulldogs on Tuesday. CIA led 16-8 after the first and 35-25 at halftime before seizing control in the third, again outscoring Nikiski, 16-8.
Senior Sheridan Olson led the Bulldogs (0-2) with 13 points, while senior Justin Wik chipped in 10.
Bulldogs 58, Eagles 14
Cook Inlet 2 9 3 0 --14
Nikiski 21 10 12 15 --58
COOK INLET (14) -- Smith 1 0-0 2, McGahan 0 0-0 0, Bauder 0 0-0 0, Arneson 0 0-0 0, Rogers 0 0-0 0, Smithwick 4 3-4 12, Powers 0 0-0 0, Brush 0 0-0 0, Leaf 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 5 3-4 14.
NIKISKI (58) -- Romans 4 0-0 9, A. Chadwick 0 0-0 0, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Carlson 5 0-0 10, Chadwick 6 3-5 15, Anderson 1 2-2 4, Parrish 0 1-2 1, Rorrison 5 0-0 10, Peek 3 1-2 7. Totals -- 25 7-11 58.
3-point goals -- Cook Inlet 1 (Smithwick); Nikiski 1 (Romans). Team fouls -- Cook Inlet 14, Nikiski 10. Fouled out -- none.
Eagles 68, Bulldogs 49
Cook Inlet 16 19 16 17 --68
Nikiski 8 17 8 16 --49
COOK INLET (68) -- Munn 2 0-2 4, Holly 1 0-0 2, Rowley 1 0-0 2, S. Moffis 5 1-2 12, S. Reischach 4 1-2 9, Smithwick 2 0-0 5, Bell 1 0-0 3, M. Moffis 0 0-0 0, D. Reischach 1 1-2 3, Doyle 11 5-6 28. Totals -- 28 8-14 68.
NIKISKI (49) -- Olson 5 3-4 13, Williams 0 0-0 0, B. Wik 3 0-0 7, Bennett 2 0-2 5, Taylor 1 0-0 2, J. Wik 5 0-0 10, Seater 3 0-1 6, Oyler 3 0-1 6. Totals -- 22 3-8 49.
3-point goals -- Cook Inlet 4 (S. Moffis, Smithwick, Bell, Doyle); Nikiski 2 (B. Wik, Bennett). Team fouls -- Cook Inlet 9, Nikiski 13. Fouled out -- none.
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