Cook Inlet Academy swept Ninilchik on Thursday in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Classic hosted by CIA. The girls opened with a 47-31 victory, followed by the boys 50-35 win.
In other tournament action, Seward's girls defeated Soldotna's junior varsity team 48-8.
CIA girls 47, Ninilchik 31
After seeing an 11-point lead diminished to three in the opening minutes of the second half, Cook Inlet Academy's Amie Smithwick drained a 3-pointer and the girls never looked back.
Smithwick's bucket gave CIA a six-point lead, a lead it would hold or improve on for the remainder of the game.
"They came to play today," said CIA head coach Rustin Hitchcock. "I was very pleased with the first game of the season."
"They outplayed us," said Ninilchik head coach Rod Van Saun. "They played well as a team."
The Eagles held a 24-13 lead at halftime, but Lindsey Rohr and the Wolverines opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run. Lindsay Schnabl hit a 3-point shot to start the quarter. Rohr followed her teammate and nailed a three of her own. Rohr then drove to the net and drew a foul on Tiffany Smith.
Off of the inbounds pass, Rohr banked a shot in to cut the lead to 24-21 in favor of CIA.
Smithwick answered back with a 3-pointer, which sparked a 5-0 CIA run.
"Lindsey Rohr is an impact player," Van Saun said. As is Smithwick, he said. Van Saun said Smithwick has incredible speed.
"She did an excellent job attacking us and defending us tonight," he said of Smithwick.
"Rohr and Smithwick both have incredible heart," Van Saun said. "Anytime they meet on the court, it's going to be a game."
Smithwick led her team with 21 points. Schnabl had a team-high 10 points for the Wolverines.
Later in the third, Smithwick grabbed the rebound after a Rohr miss and found a streaking Tiana McGahan. McGahan almost ran out of bounds but saved the ball and pushed it back to Smith. Smith put in the close-range shot.
Hitchcock said his bench players came in and provided energy to the rest of the team. After the Wolverines' eight unanswered points, his starters took over, he said.
The Eagles held a 34-25 lead after three quarters of play.
The girls added to their lead in the fourth, scoring 13 points in the final quarter. Two of those came from Megan Bauder. She stole the ball on a pass intended for Rohr and drove in for the layup. But Bauder was fouled by Cassie Fefelov as she attempted the shot. Moments later, Bauder again stole the ball -- this time from Rohr -- and again Fefelov fouled her as she went in for the layup. Bauder missed her first two free throws but drained both during her second trip to the line. CIA held a 12-point lead after Bauder's foul shots.
McGahan and Smithwick added two free throws each and Smithwick hit a three near the end of regulation to give her team a 16-point win.
After a close opening eight minutes, CIA doubled its first-quarter points in the second, giving it a 24-13 lead after the first half. The girls opened the second with a 6-0 run. Smithwick scored eight of CIA's 16 second-quarter points. Half of those came off of turnovers created by Smithwick.
After stealing a Ninilchik pass and running the length of the floor for an easy layup, Smithwick repeated the action. She stripped the ball out of Esther Ehlers' hands and hustled down the floor untouched for another layup and another two points.
Hitchcock said he's been emphasizing hard work this week. "We've been reiterating 'hustle' at practice," he said.
The Eagles take on Seward tonight at 7:15 p.m.
CIA boys 50, Ninilchik 35
Rebounds and press.
Those two aspects of basketball summed up Thursday's matchup between the Cook Inlet Academy boys and Ninilchik.
CIA did both well, helping them to a 50-35 win over the Wolverines, and Ninilchik couldn't do either.
"We couldn't rebound and we couldn't make a layup," Ninilchik head coach Keith Presley said. "We kept giving them five chances at the boards."
Besides grabbing several offensive rebounds, CIA head coach Justin Franchino said his team's press worked well.
"Our press rattled them pretty good in the second half," he said.
"We let their press bother us," he said.
The Eagles held a four-point lead after the opening eight minutes, and added to that lead in the second. Stephan Reischach hit back-to-back field goals for a 5-0 run and an 18-10 lead early in the second quarter. At close range, Reischach faked a shot then followed with an immediate layup. Moments later he drained a 3-pointer.
But the Wolverines cut the lead to three.
Reischach answered right back with four points. He nailed a jump shot then had the ball once again looking to score. He missed and grabbed his own rebound. Reischach made the bucket and drew a foul. But he failed to convert the three-point play.
The Eagles had a 26-17 lead at the half.
That's when the moment really shifted in CIA's favor, Presley said.
"We let it get away from us in the second half," he said.
Though just their second game of the young season, Franchino said his team wanted to have a good game against conference rival Ninilchik.
"You always want to take care of business when you play a region opponent," he said.
CIA spread the ball around well, and had several team members contribute scoring.
"Tonight, it was a team effort," Franchino said.
Franchino said his team has a lot of depth, which works to their advantage.
"That enables us to work harder on defense," Fanchino said of the team's depth.
The Wolverines cut the lead to eight in the third quarter, but CIA never let them get any closer. The Eagles put up 15 third-quarter points and held a commanding 41-25 lead heading into the fourth.
The Eagles play Seward at 2 p.m. today.
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