Kenai Central boys get down, dirty

Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2005


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  Skyview¿s Jeff Dolifka goes up for a shot under pressure from Kenai¿s Brandon Miles in the first quarter at KCHS Friday evening. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Kenais Zach Beeson tries to pass a loose ball in the first quarter during Fridays game against Skyview.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Small ball won out Friday night at Kenai Central High School.

The Skyview girls and Kenai Central boys basketball teams do not have a lot of height, but both units claimed victories in their Northern Lights Conference openers.

The Skyview girls defeated the Kardinals 44-42 to improve to 2-0 overall and drop Kenai to 1-1 overall. The Kenai boys topped the Panthers 60-45 to improve to 2-0 overall and drop Skyview to 1-1 overall.

The girls game came down to a wild final minute. Skyview’s Shelley Heffner began the final minute by sinking one of two foul shots to give the Panthers a 42-38 lead.

The Kardinals then stormed back as Samantha Navarre rolled in a short jumper and Lindsey Keener had a steal and layup to tie the game with 20 seconds left.

However, the Panthers quickly beat Kenai’s press with a long pass down the court, then found Nicole VanRyzin for a clutch jump shot to take a 44-42 lead with 12 seconds left.

“That shot had a lot of adrenaline behind it,” said VanRyzin, who led all scorers with 16 points. “It made me so nervous, but it went in.”

On the final play, Heffner kept Keener from getting penetration, so Keener kicked to Navarre, who missed a 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Melissa Fay.

“This was gratifying because of the improvements our team made over the course of the summer,” Skyview coach Wade Marcuson said. “The whole program has really stepped up this year with work ethic and attitude.”

Even though it was the second game of the season, both teams committed just nine turnovers in the first three quarters. In the final quarter, Skyview had five turnovers and Kenai had six.

“Both teams played pretty poised for a game so early in the season,” Kenai assistant coach Jim Davis said.

Marcuson said peninsula NLC teams all have key players returning, so battles like Friday night’s are to be expected early in the season.

Skyview jumped out to the first big lead in the game when VanRyzin nailed a jumper to complete a 7-0 run and make the score 13-4 with 7:50 left in the second quarter.

Keener, who paced the Kardinals with 15 points, then had seven points in an 11-1 stretch that gave Kenai its first lead of the game at 15-14 with 2:49 left until half.

Skyview held the lead through the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, but that lead never got bigger than six until Allison Fay, who finished with 12 points, nailed a pair of foul shots to make the score 41-33 with 2:39 left in the game.

At that point, Kenai went to full-court pressure and Navarre got hot from the field. She scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Although Kenai’s press gave them some trouble, the Panthers were able to hold the Kardinals off due to foul shooting. Skyview hit 8-of-9 in the final frame, including 4-of-5 from Heffner, who finished with 10 points.

“We work on free throws every day in practice,” VanRyzin said. “One of our goals this year is to be a good free-throw shooting team.”

Kenai boys 60, Skyview 45

The Kardinals turned up the heat on defense to force the Panthers into 23 turnovers and hold a commanding lead for the entire second half.

“I think some people may laugh when they see us run out for warmups because they look at how small we are,” Kenai coach Jim Beeson said. “We’ve got some guys who are pretty strong, like Brandon (Miles), Kevin (Epperheimer) and Austin (McLeod), so that allows them to play bigger than they really are.”

Beeson said two of the more consistent players on Kenai’s team will be sophomore guard Nate Saltzgiver and senior guard Epperheimer, and both came through Friday. Epperheimer had 19 points while Saltzgiver had 18, including nine of Kenai’s first 11 points.

“We knew they were guard-heavy and we worked on closing out on shooters all week in practice,” Skyview coach Shaun O’Shea said. “We weren’t able to execute that.”

O’Shea said another part of the game plan was to get the ball to sophomore center Rich Shirnberg in the post. Shirnberg paced the Panthers with 14 points, but many times Skyview had trouble getting him the ball.


Skyviews Jeff Dolifka goes up for a shot under pressure from Kenais Brandon Miles in the first quarter at KCHS Friday evening.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

“That was the key,” Beeson said. “Our intensity and speed was the difference in the game.”

The intensity led to a lot of whistles, as Kenai picked up 24 fouls and Skyview had 20. However, neither team used the fouling to its advantage. Both squads were 11-of-22 from the foul line.

“They came out with more intensity,” O’Shea said. “Maybe we took things for granted after winning last weekend. I felt they outplayed us.

“It was a league game on their home floor against a rival, so you’d expect them to play with that type of intensity.”

McLeod added 11 points for the Kardinals.



Skyview 11 9 10 14 —44

Kenai Central 4 13 12 13 —42

SKYVIEW (44) — Heffner 3 4-5 10, Martin 0 0-0 0, Thornton 0 0-0 0, M. Fay 2 0-0 4, VanRyzin 6 3-4 16, Blake 1 0-0 2, West 0 0-0 0, A. Fay 2 8-12 12, St. Clair 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 15-21 44.

KENAI (42) — Navarre 5 0-0 11, Keener 5 4-7 15, Foley 2 0-1 4, Moore 0 0-0 0, McGlasson 1 0-0 2, Kiel 0 0-0 0, Craig 3 0-0 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Steward 0 2-2 2. Totals — 17 6-10 42.

3-point goals — Skyview 1 (VanRyzin 1); Kenai 2 (Navarre 1, Keener 1). Team fouls — Skyview 14, Kenai 20. Fouled out — none.



Skyview 12 8 10 15 —45

Kenai Central 19 14 15 12 —60

SKYVIEW (45) — West 0 0-0 0, Dolifka 1 6-7 8, Rodgers 0 0-0 0, McMilin 1 2-5 4, Duke 1 0-0 2, Foister 2 0-1 4, Bosick 3 2-2 8, Blossom 2 1-2 5, DeTavinier 0 0-0 0, Shirnberg 7 0-5 14. Totals — 17 11-22 45.

KENAI (60) — Saltzgiver 5 5-5 18, Gustkey 0 0-0 0, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Toombs 1 1-2 3, Beeson 0 0-0 0, Blanning 1 0-2 2, Epperheimer 8 2-5 19, Ward 0 0-0 0, Faumui 1 1-2 3, Miles 1 0-0 2, McLeod 4 2-6 11, Chimphalee 0 0-0 0. Totals — 23 11-22 60.

3-point goals — Skyview 0; Kenai 6 (Saltzgiver 3, Blanning 1, Epperheimer 1, McLeod 1). Team fouls — Skyview 20, Kenai 24. Fouled out — Bosick, Blossom.

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