A 12-0 run to open the game was all the Cook Inlet Academy girls basketball team needed to secure its first victory of the season.
Behind a full-court press and aggressive ball pressure, the Eagles scored the game's first dozen points, built a 20-2 lead through eight minutes and never looked back in dismantling the Wolverines of Ninilchik 49-14 Thursday evening to open the Cook Inlet Classic at Cook Inlet.
"It was a great way to bounce back," Cook Inlet coach Rustin Hitchcock said, referring to the Eagles' season-opening loss to Nikiski last week. "We're very happy."
The Wolverines were never in the game after struggling from the first whistle to handle Cook Inlet's full-court pressure.
It wasn't until Alicia Ehlers' basket at the 1:53 mark of the first that Ninilchik scored.
Even after that, Cook Inlet (1-1) rattled off the next 11 points to build a 23-2 lead and effectively put the game away.
A pair of 3-pointers by Esther Ehlers provided a rare highlight in the second quarter for Ninilchik, which didn't score more than seven points in any quarter.
Cook Inlet led 32-9 at halftime as four of its five starters scored first-half buckets. Many of the points came after Wolverines turnovers.
"That's how we're going to win games this year -- with the press," Hitchcock said.
Ninilchik managed just five field goals and committed a slew of turnovers, making mistakes in the face of Cook Inlet's defense.
During one third-quarter stretch, the Wolverines committed seven turnovers in as many possessions, either throwing the ball out of bounds or into the hands of someone on the wrong team.
Cook Inlet's Tiffany Smith scored eight points and posted eight steals, setting up easy baskets for herself and her teammates.
Each time the Wolverines made a pass, Smith was there to make an interception or deflect the ball out of bounds or to a teammate.
Ninilchik turned the ball over before it could manage a shot on many possessions, and Smith was usually in the area.
"Her athleticism and anticipation is unparalleled to anyone I've ever seen in this league," Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock pulled his starters for portions of a fourth quarter in which the teams combined for seven points -- the game already decided.
Five Eagles scored at least six points, led by Tiana McGahan's 13 and Megan Bauder's 11. Keely Powers added seven, while Kelsie Leaf had six.
The Eagles held a double-digit lead the entire game after scoring the first 12 points.
Cook Inlet continues the classic against Skyview at 7:15 p.m. today, while Ninilchik faces the Soldotna junior varsity squad at 3:45 p.m. Both games are at Cook Inlet.
On Saturday, CIA faces the Soldotna JV at 3 p.m., while Ninilchik faces Skyview at 11:30 a.m.
Soldotna JV 32, Skyview 31
The Soldotna junior varsity girls basketball team defeated Skyview's varsity squad 32-31 to open the Cook Inlet Classic Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy.
Makayla Wong of the SoHi scored a team-high 10 points, and teammates Kiana Hendricks and Devin Hutchings added six apiece.
Skyview was led by Jaxon Hill, who led all scorers with 12.
The Stars took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter and held off the Panthers, who ended the game on a 10-7 run.
SoHi faces Ninilchik at 3:45 p.m., while Skyview faces host Cook Inlet at 7:15 p.m.
Stars 32, Panthers 31
Soldotna JV 8 6 11 7 --32
Skyview 4 7 10 10 --31
SKYVIEW (31) -- M. Halverson 0, M. Hauptman 2, C. Marang 5, J. Saunders 2, J. Hill 12, B. Mercier 2, C. Valiquette 0, K. Self 0, S. Malatesta 8, A. Whiteshield 0, T. Bak 0.
Eagles 49, Wolverines 14
Ninilchik 2 7 2 3 --14
Cook Inlet 20 12 13 4 --49
COOK INLET (49) -- T. Smith 8, T. McGahan 13, M. Bauder 11, K. Brush 0, K. Leaf 6, N. Moffis 2, D Bunts 0, L. Bauder 0, K. Powers 7, M. Powers 2.
NINILCHIK (14) -- M. Barkowitz 0, J. Rogers 2, A. Anahonak 0, L. Kelson 0, L. Appelhanz 2, M. Campbell 0, E. Ehlers 6, A. Ehlers 2, J. Martin 0, K. Smith 0.
3-point goals - Cook Inlet 3 (McGahan 1, Bouder 1, Powers 1), Ninilchik 2 (E. Ehlers 2). Total fouls - Cook Inlet 8, Ninilchik not reported. Fouled out - None.
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